A blog tracking a year of saying Kaddish for my mother, who died on September 9th, 2008.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Getting Back to the Routine
Now that Simchat Torah is over the Jewish holiday season finally comes to a close. After a month on the job, I’ll have my first whole week at work starting on Monday. Soon I will be getting up at basically the same time every morning, going to work, going to the gym, coming home, and seeing my friends. I have been looking forward to this for months, but it’s also terrifying, and incredibly sad.
I’ve always been the kind of person who flourishes when given some kind of routine, even if it’s a very loose one. Last year I was immersed in a schedule of teaching, taking classes and writing. Every morning I davened, wrote for the website where I worked, took a yoga class, and spent some time on my thesis. And then when Eema got really sick, in March, everything shifted. I returned to Chicago to spend my time with Eema. I stopped going to yoga, and stopped davening every morning. My work at Jewcy became spotty, and my thesis was moved to the bottom of my list of priorities. For the next several months, my days were unpredictable and chaotic. There were appointments with doctors, visits with friends and guests from out of town, bathing, shopping, reading, and massaging. Most days were a hodgepodge of activities depending mostly on how Eema was feeling. I was so happy to be able to help Eema, to be with her, but I felt miserable and unmoored by my lack of routine. I clung to the few constants—coffee with Laura in the mornings, time at the gym, and working—but mainly I coached myself that sometime soon I would have a routine again.
After Eema died there was a week of strict routine in shiva, but then everything shifted and opened up again. I thought moving to New York would finally give me the anchoring that I craved, but as soon as I got here the holidays took over, and I bounced from work to holiday to Shabbat, as anxious as ever. Now that stage is finally, mercifully, coming to an end.
But I don’t feel happy, or even relieved. Part of grieving, I’ve noticed, is getting to the next stage where things should be easier, and realizing that it’s farther away from the person you miss. Of course, I’m thrilled to have reached the point where I can really get into the groove of my routine. But I’m also horrified that my mother has been dead for a month and a half. How did this happen? I want to freeze the world at this point. I want to stay as close to her as I can (though really, if I’m making time travel wishes, I’d rather go back a year and a half and do a whole lot of things differently, and not stay here in the year of suckiness).
I appreciate that saying kaddish is one element of this year that is a constant, a helpful daily piece of routine. But as the days go by I can’t help thinking that maybe I don’t want a routine as much as I thought I did.