I have been kicking ideas for a post around for the previous few weeks, but couldn’t quite coalesce them into a coherent form. I am still looking for something to bring these random and disparate thoughts and ideas together. So in lieu of that, I may just ramble on and let them sort themselves out.
Monday was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, literally the “head of the year”.Many of the things I wrote 2 years ago still hold true. The 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are supposed to be a time for self-reflection, of stock-taking, of teshuva, a Hebrew word that is usually translated as ‘repentance’ but literally means ‘return’. To what do we strive to return? If I could, I would return to the days when Jake was still alive, those days where our family was whole and happy. Or at least whole. Of course, that isn’t possible. The ideal is to return to a purer self, to repent for our transgressions, to strive to be better. We are to ask forgiveness from those who we may have hurt or offended during the previous year, and so, if I have hurt or offended anyone who may read this during this past year, slicha, forgive me.
It has been months since I have written anything here. At some level, it feels as if this blog is winding down. But the story hasn’t an end yet. Whether it will end with a bang or a whimper remains to be seen. Grief has stabilized somewhat, the ambushes happen far less frequently, and I can usually see them coming. It feels as if my journey through the labyrinth has stalled, I am becalmed on this Ocean of Heartbreak. I have no new insights to share with my fellow grievers. The scab over the wound has thickened, the scar tissue deepened, but the pain persists although well masked, usually. I struggle with my memory to recall what it was actually like having Jake in the world. What he felt like when I lay my hand on his head to bless him, the sound of his voice, the sparkle in his eye as he made some sarcastic comment or clever turn of words. What conversations with him were like. My conversations are all one-sided these days.
I look at the photographs of him and see the boy, the teenager, the young man, but that person no longer exists. Even if he were alive, the person in the photos would no longer exist. He would have turned 27 this August, and I strain to see what he would be like, who he would become, what his life might be like today. Yes, it is a futile exercise, and one that can only lead to sorrow, but nonetheless, I imagine what he might be doing tonight, where he might be living. I can imagine many scenarios beyond the one I could have never imagined, the one that came true.
Life goes on. We move through the days, weeks, months, and suddenly it has been nearly three years. Three years. I think back to what we were doing three years ago, and it is inconceivable we could have known what our lives would be like three years hence. We had a very different plan. So where does that leave me? Still looking for my lost purpose, a new direction to go. I saw a movie the other day, and there is a line where one of the characters is talking to another about having children. He says, “Yes, that is why we are here”. That was exactly the way I felt when Jake was born, that my true mission on Earth was finally fulfilled. Now I look for something as noble but nothing can really replace that lost purpose. So I strive to do whatever good I can, to perhaps inspire one of the young people I teach, maybe to brighten a stranger’s day with a compliment, or a helpful gesture. But in a way, it is just marking time. What lies ahead I cannot see clearly. The road ahead is still swathed in fog. I have nought to do but to keep walking and hope the fog lifts, or at least thins out a bit. I look back at some of what I wrote 2 years ago, and see I have come some distance from those terrible days, and yet, not so far.
I have been told I should publish this blog as a book. Those suggestions began when I first began writing about my journey. I have thought much about that, and kind of wanted to have a meaningful stopping point. Maybe the three year anniversary, coming soon, will be it. It will need much judicious editing to transform this series of random posts into a coherent narrative. Perhaps the immediacy of the writing could be the whole point of such an endeavor. I don’t know. I just wish I had something more to offer than my own emotions and observations. Something that could help others find their way through this worst of all possible tragedies. A guide book for the Lonesome Highway. But as we have observed, this is such a personal journey that we must find our own way. Everyone will have a different experience, mine might or might not be relevant.
In any case, there it is, another installment. Stream of consciousness indeed. Sometimes it feels like stream of unconsciousness. Maybe it won’t be three months before I can write another. I’ll let you know when I find out.