I’m a practical woman and a rabbi. I’ve always preached that there’s enough mystery in the here and now not to waste much effort worrying about what comes after this life. Yet now, in the silence of my home, I wonder if I, too, have begun to detect the echoes of distant heartbeats. I wonder if I believe in ghosts.
The craft had, for decades, given my 90-year-old mother a solid sense of pride and accomplishment. The repetitive motions of wrapping and pulling stitches have a calming meditative effect, and the mathematics involved in structuring a garment is good exercise for the brain. Even with the dementia, it was the one skill she had been able to hold on to. It was an anchor that kept my mother from completely drifting away.
“We wanted to get married, but his dad thought we were too young. If he’d let us get married . . .” Her voice trailed off, heavy with sadness. The regret in her voice made me uncomfortable. Talking with Mom about her love for another man felt disloyal to my dad, asleep just down the hall. And it was clear that Mom had been in love: Only real love could yield so much sorrow.
Uncertainty slips in like long shadows from the trees. I shiver, wonder if I’ve done the right thing, taking these two little girls away from their father, dividing everything: a house, a dining room set, their chances for someday finding love that doesn’t look like half of something.
Morgan nursed him carefully. The room was dimly lit; evening had descended. I swallowed against the sudden threat of tears. I felt helpless, and tired, and proud of my wife, and distant from her. Indeed, I felt very far away from anything I’d ever known.
I hate when fish die, loathe the inevitable conversation with a woebegone child about the fact that all living things must die, worry that if this fish expires, my youngest child will do the math about his much older parents’ odds for longevity.
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