Monday, June 06, 2011

My orphanhood doesn't feel new, I'm sorry to say

From my September 28, 2010 post "Ki avi v'imi azavuni . . . "

The sad truth is that it was difficult for me to mourn for my mother when she'd already been largely absent from my life for over two decades. And my father, with no memory left, is, from my own perspective, as good as gone already, as awful as that may sound. I'm actually having trouble trying to figure out what to say when the time comes for me to sit shiva for him--he's been in decline for so long that we haven't been able to have a decent conversation for several years.

[ ¶ ]

So a psalm that says that "my father and my mother have deserted me" strikes a little too close to home."

Sitting shiva for a long-time-not-really-there father who moved to Israel when our now-28-year-old son was less than 3 years old is . . . well, not the easiest thing. It's tough to talk about the father I once had, since only a shell remained by the time he died, and difficult to mourn someone who was, in all ways but physical, dead already. I tried to write a few words to say at the shiva, but my words felt hollow--the man I described hasn't existed in years. The truth is that I'm relieved, since the only thing that continued life would have brought my father was more suffering for no good reason.

As far as I'm concerned, I was as good as orphaned months, if not years, ago. Sitting shiva for my father is just a public acknowledgment of a private long-held truth. And low-level, drawn-out private mourning is a tough gig.


Blogger Lanie said...

In the siddur I have from my maternal grandfather, he crossed out this translation and substituted "left" for "deserted." I believe that he felt that his life was a witness to the values he inherited from his parents, and that what he had passed to his children and grandchildren was their legacy. When you can celebrate your parents' aliyah as something they did for themselves rather than something they did to you, you will (I pray) find peace.

Mon Jun 06, 11:21:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

You're right on both points. My life is, in many ways, "a witness to the values [I] inherited from [my] parents," and what I passed--I hope--to our son is their legacy. As to my parents' aliyah, I think it's only in recent years that I've been able to acknowledge how ambivalent I was about it. That's something for me to work on.

Mon Jun 06, 11:29:00 AM 2011  
Anonymous rich said...

'long drawn out' difficult indeed. wishing you peace. Let us know if we can do anything for you.

Mon Jun 06, 04:14:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Rich, your kind wishes are appreciated. I'll check out that link.

Mon Jun 06, 05:54:00 PM 2011  

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