Sunday, October 30, 2005

What I Think About in the Shower

A year and six days ago, Liz was in Chicago with me. Having been given a clean bill of health by the doctors, she came on a celebratory "Woohoo, I'm Done With Chemo!" visit. That weekend also coincided with my friend Michelle's birthday, and so Liz and I went dancing motzei shabbos with Michelle and some other girls. Two weeks after that, Liz celebrated her 23rd birthday. One month after that, the tumors had begun to grow again. Four and a half months after that, I stood by her graveside.

On Rosh Hashana, Kevin mentioned something that has really stuck in my head. It's something I had thought of before, but it stuck me particularly forcibly this year. On the Yomim Noraim, in the Netane Tokef, we say that only Hashem knows what will happen in the coming year: who will live and who will die; who at his appointed time and who before it; who by fire and who by water; who by the sword and who by wild beasts; who from hunger and who from thirst; who by earthquake and who by plague; who by strangling and who by stoning; who shall rest and who shall wander; who will be tranquil and who harassed; who will be at ease and who afflicted; who will become poor and who rich; who will be brought down and who raised up. Looking back on the year that's just ended, it seems so easy to understand this. We know who has been born, and who has passed away. We know who has celebrated simchas and who has suffered misfortune. The Netane Tokef, however, is not about the year that's ended. It's about the year that has just begun. We don't know what the year will bring. How could I have known what 5765 was going to bring? What will this new year bring?

Last year, during the Yomim Noraim, I was praying for Liz's recovery. Only a few weeks after the chagim, it seemed as though those prayers had been answered. During Sukkot, Gila announced her pregnancy. Who could have foreseen that in half a year's time, I would celebrate Azriel's birth and bris, and two weeks later fly to Pittsburgh to mourn Liz's death? It's been six months now. That six month mark coincided almost exactly with the dates last year that Liz had been with me in Chicago. Somehow, it seems particularly cruel. This time last year, I thanked Hashem for her recovery. Everything was fine. She was talking about going back t graduate school. She would have been in school again by now. Instead, I'm mourning her with a grief as raw and painful as it was in April. The only difference is that now it's been even longer since I've heard the sound of her voice.

This coming Saturday would have been her 24th birthday. It weighs on me, and I have no one here that I can really talk to. No one here knew her. No one here can possibly understand what she was to me. Everyone who did know her, and who does understand, is on the other side of the world. I never knew how lonely grief could be.

No comments: