Yesterday was mostly uneventful. Which, right now, is a good thing. We had our ‘California Breakfast’ of grapefruit and oranges from the tree, yogurt and bananas and strong black coffee, on the patio. Our friends, the birds, flitted about and cackled in the branches overhead under a high overcast sky, the colors of the garden muted in the flat grey light. The sun, not much more than a bright spot in the mottled clouds overhead. We went out in the afternoon for olive oil tasting at a local producer, and met a lovely woman who guided us through the various varieties and blends they make. We looked at the machinery that washes, crushes and separates the oil, and tasted several varieties from their orchard.
We took a picnic lunch up to Meditation Mount, a peaceful retreat we visited the day before. We ate our turkey sandwiches and salad on a large patio with a splendid view of the Topa Topa Mountains. We walked through the “International Garden of Peace”, down a path along a ridge with the grey-green chaparral sloping away on both sides. The garden is lovely with plantings, ponds, benches where one can sit and meditate, and ends at a little knoll overlooking the Ojai valley to the west. There is a bench in the shade of a tree, where we sat and watched the world under the grey blanket of clouds. The purple haze of distance softened the mountains and the orchards spread out below us. It was quiet, the only sounds were the wind in the leaves, the scratching of the Towhees in the underbrush and the sharp tsip, tsip of the warblers and hummingbirds. But even in these peaceful moments, there is always a sorrowful unspoken undertone.
Back home, we made preparations for Shabbat. It is something we do wherever we are. We have lit candles and made the blessings in condos in Hawaii, in a cave in Italy, in a casita in Mexico, in a cabin in the woods, and in hotel rooms all over the country. It is something that brought our family together, and made wherever in the world we were, home. Last night, it was all going fairly well, somber, but peaceful. Terry lit the candles; I covered the two small rolls we bought in the local bakery. I poured out the wine, so far so good. But as soon as I picked up the cup to begin the Kiddush, it struck.
Jake loved Friday night dinners as did we. One of his friends told us that Jake told him he loved being Jewish, loved Shabbat, the Holidays, going to shul. While he was growing up, Shabbat was a chance for us to gather as a family, to review our day, our week. Time to wind down. Last night, as tears dripped into the wine, I couldn’t bring myself to sing. I don’t much feel like singing these days. I managed to croak out the blessings in a hoarse whisper, what should be the joy of Shabbat shattered forever.
It has been four weeks. Four joyless Shabbats. What used to be a day we looked forward to, the end of the workweek, a chance to rest and recharge, I now dread. It will be a constant reminder of what happened. I realized that from now onwards, for the rest of my life, every Shabbat will always be tinged with bitter memory. For. The. Rest. Of. My. Life. How’s that for a life sentence with no possibility of parole?
I know we are supposed to take it “one day at a time”, but I am already looking toward other holidays we shared with our son. Right now, the prospect is just too painful to contemplate. How on earth will I be able to celebrate Passover, one of his, and our, favorites? “And thou shall tell it to your son” goes the commandment. I no longer have a son to tell the story to. I expect that in time we will be able to face these holidays we loved so much without our beloved son to share them with us. We had so many wonderful times we did share. I can only hope that one day, those memories will be able to sustain us as we move forward. For now, I mark the time week-by-week, Shabbat-by-Shabbat. Next week 5, then 10 then 50 then 1,000. But it will never be the same.