Monday, June 14, 2004

The Last Kaddish

The Kaddish has been called an echo of the Book of Job. Job said: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him." The Kaddish is an expression of faith on the part of the mourner that although he is grief-stricken, he still believes in God, still trusts in the meaning of life. It is the ultimate anti-existentialist statement. Karen and I will mourn forever. We are riven as day follows night. Our son will always be dead, and a central portion of our lives died with him.

This Shabbos I recite the last Kaddish of the eleven months for Ariel.

I stand in shul, eyes closed, swaying back and forth, chanting the words with (I hope) perfect diction and true feeling. I want the b'racha to go on forever. I want to stretch the words like a giant rubber band and make them reach from earth to heaven. There are at least another dozen mourners in shul, all with much louder voices than mine, but I hear only one sound. Is this my voice? I see Ariel as he used to be: sitting in shul beside me. Is this my voice? I study the delicate architecture of his face. I melt as Ariel's lips move, savoring each syllable, whispering the sacred Hebrew text. Is this me? I study his long tapering fingers as they turn the pages of the siddur. I lean over and bury my lips in the plush groove of his neck. It is my voice. I am close to the end. It is my son. I take three steps back and three steps forward. I finish the Kaddish. I open my eyes and I see a dozen men in shul gazing at me. Some have tears in their eyes. Several nod, tacitly acknowledging the finality of the moment. I open my eyes and I see light. I open my eyes and I am swimming through layers of memory. I open my eyes and I see splendor. I open my eyes and I see my son, my son, Ariel.


Blogger Judith said...

I remember saying kaddish for my father at the end of the 11 months. I didn't want it to end either. I cherish each yizkor and yahrzeit now because saying kaddish I feel inside a little intimate bubble with Hashem and my loved ones, outside of real time and the flow of the service. It's very precious to me.

June 14, 2004 at 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my God.

June 18, 2004 at 2:17 PM  

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