Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yahrtzeit- A Different Kind of Mother's Day

I don't need help knowing what to feel on my mom's yahrtzeit. I've got feelings a plenty. I'm more unsure what I'm supposed to do, or what the day means, besides a chance to reflect. So I fast for half the day, light a candle and think.

I think back to a Saturday night in Tel Aviv with a friend (which is a code-word for a girl), during my post-high school year in Israel. I don't remember what we were talking about, but all of a sudden it hit me. All those times that my parents did something that I didn't like, they were trying their best. Even their mistakes came from a place of love. Being that this was the olden days, I sent my parents an aerogram where I shared this with them, and apologized for having been a jerk. After they got the letter, my father told me “Your mother cried”. Of course, I swallowed my response, “What about you?”.

I swore up and down that I'd avoid all of their mistakes, and I did, except for when I didn't. I also made new ones, which they never would have made. I find myself wondering whether all my mistakes come from a place of love, or maybe from a murkier, more confused place.

Late in the afternoon, Chavi walks into the room. She has just finished a report on the Chassidim and Misnagdim. She did it on her own, without having to be asked by her parents, which I'd put off on her being female, except I have two other daughters. Somehow, the conversation moves from place to place, including sociology, Spinoza and the Haskala. Then it gets serious. She asks me what we are. I go into a soliloquy, which comes from a place of love. I talk about being confused, and looking for truth and being a parent, and choosing a high school for her, and why I still where a hat on Shabbos, and how it breaks my heart when she cries, but her tears get a vote, and not a veto. I don't know what she thought, although she seemed to take it in, and suddenly the yahrtzeit has meaning. For this year at least.

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