Today would’ve been my dads birthday. The 12 Nov was always an immense day of celebration. Not necessarily in the form of a party, but as a family, we all revered and idolized my father, and being with him on his birthday meant a lot to all of us. Everything about my dad was big, except his height. He had this magnanimous personality, a big asymmetrical smile that made people’s day; and made him look as rugged as the camel man. He had this burly belly, that was his trademark together with his bushy full beard. His laugh was contagious and abundant, and even his yawns were so big and loud you could literally jump out of your skin. I’ve been trying to collect my thoughts for over a year. Since my dad passed away, I keep trying to catch moments.
As you see from my posts- my life has become a chaotic cacophony of misadventures. I feel like I’m constantly treading water, at the same time trying to keep my head above it; and simultaneously juggling. If one ball drops, I’d have to look down and reach for it, causing my weary legs to stop treading – and there I would plunge into the deep, dark, wretched abyss.
So this constant need to stay afloat has kept me impossibly busy. Maybe I’m so busy and unsettled because I’ve taken this on alone- pretty much- that I have had to pull my husband along as well as my kids. We did not do this as a team. Maybe it’s because my kids have found a haven in a less rigidly religious community, that they feel they have immunity to all previous rules and regulations. Or perhaps it is due to my newly found realization that I have ADD (undiagnosed professionally- but most certainly a contender). Whatever the reason is – my constant scramble had left me with a rather large, looming overshadow of guilt.
Guilt of not having mourned my dad enough.
Don’t get me wrong. He was constantly in my thoughts. I’d stop myself every so often, and remark out loud, to myself, that I could not fathom that he actually was no longer in a physical embodiment.
During my few moments of solitude I’d ask my dad what he thought NOW of me being religious. When we saw each other, we would often debate the fact that what if I was right about being religious and he was wrong… I’d tell him that there would be consequences to play. I’d always make him take on little things. He’d always tell me not to tell him anything. Not to make him feel guilty for not being religious. But I always did give him unsolicited encouragement as to what customs to undertake before all the chagim. As well as certain mitzvot I felt to be imperative, as to be a rectification of his soul.
“Aaah, ” he would exclaim” but what if I am right- and you are wrong? Or what if after we die there is nothing? “( he did not believe that at all. It was just for arguments sake. )
“Then….”,I’d reply -appeased that he fell into my trap,”then dad, at least I would have lived my life as a good person and solid citizen of the world. Not to much harm would be perpetuated by me. And if I am in fact right, I get immense spiritual reward! It’s a win-win really”
So on my walks in the past year, I’d look up at the sky and ask my dad if he was ok. Because I know I was/am right. I know he still is out there – but in another dimension. And I also know his soul had to go through a year of purification. And I prayed to Hashem to bless and protect his soul. And make the process as pleasant as is possible. All in my very limited, physical mind, which cannot grasp the realities that exist outside of our subsistence.
The After his death, I really did not cry much. Which really has bothered me. As I do cry. In fact – it’s an Ephron trait. And here I was unable to cry much – about the man I adored.
And then… It was during Chanuka – 6 months into my year of mourning – that We experienced our own miracle. I became pregnant. And the moment I realized I was pregnant – I knew inherently that it was a boy.
This was my 11th pregnancy. I have had 5 miscarriages and three of them were in the second trimester. I have always been high risk, and have been monitored closely and have injected myself with blood thinners for 4 pregnancies. This pregnancy, once again I was monitored by a high risk doctor – who was so chilled out. And no meds besides my prenatal vitamin. And I felt like I was truly in G-d’s hands here. Also after 10 pregnancies, I have learnt to rely only on Hashem as one never knows, and we only get whatever can handle. But nevertheless, inside I’m a basket case. But this time, Even though still anxious, I just knew that all would be well with the pregnancy.
Finally the day came. A week overdue. A quick and extremely intense labour, and the prince was born! My whole pregnancy, feeling that I was pregnant with my dad – I almost expected the baby to have a beard!! But the baby looked like a baby, a most beautiful boy!
The immense gratitude that washed over me is hard to explain. I fell back on the bed, completely spent, uttering while me teeth chattered הודו לה׳ כי טוב כי לעולם חסדו. Thank you Hashem because you are good and your kindness endures forever.
Over and over.
Thank you for this child, thank you for my life. Thank you for allowing me to give back to my father. And that’s how I feel. Whether I am right or wrong, I have no idea, but I do believe that a part of my father’s neshama has been entrusted to me for safeguarding and guiding.
Even crazier…. One morning in the hospital, I had my cup of coffee. I was chatting to a friend on the phone. I randomly looked at my teaspoon. And my jaw dropped. There in remnants of foam left in my teaspoon – I saw my fathers face. Like it was a sign to me that my dad was there. Here is the pic below. I can see it immediately. So could my friend. My kids did not see it – and my sisters and mom did – after I circled it. Have a look.
And then came his bris and naming. His name is Aryeh Shmuel Avraham. After both Earl and my dad. Earls dad passed away before we were married, and he was very close to him. So finally Earl also gets to nurture that part of his father’s neshama that sits in our Ari. I can only relate to the part of my dad, because I never knew Earl’s dad.
And now as he is blossoming everyday, I look at him. He sometimes gives me a sideway, crooked smile and he even yawns loudly like my dad( or like a lion!)
But whether this is all my own hunch, or my grappling for some continuity, my little baby boy, has enabled me to cry again. I look at him and I intrinsically feel that I am once again in the presence of my father. But the times are reversed. And I get to care for him, and love him as my son. The greatest love of all. I cry not from sadness. But from immense and profound gratitude and joy, that in all this hustle and bustle, in all my crazy antics, I have been so blessed.
Thank you Hashem for all you have given me.
And thank you dad, for all you gave me, and continue to do so. I love you, and happy birthday. Lechaim!