My mother calls and brings it up before I do.
“It’s tonight…I’ve been thinking about it…remembering….”
I choke back a sob. “Yes. It is tonight. And I’m sad…”
I fall apart. I tell her the thoughts I have.
She listens, she shares and she hurts with me.
I feel something shift. The depression lifts and the sadness rolls in.
The day ends. The darkness comes.
He walks in and looks at me. His eyes are sad…but flashing with life.
He hugs me. I shrink a little.
“I spoke to the Rabbi,” he says.
I pull my head off his shoulder and wait.
“He said we can light a candle. He said it’s ok.”
My heart stops. I don’t know how I feel.
He looks at me and whispers, “the Rabbi said it must be so hard for you….he thought of your emotions…he didn’t just rattle off an answer…”
I am surprised. Someone with religious authority thought of me as an emotional being and gave me a right to emote. I am beginning to feel alive again.
We sit down to dinner, the candle ready in the center.
I stand silently and strike the match. My hand shakes as I lower the flame to the wick. The candle burns.
After seven long years, a candle burns.
And now I am sobbing in my husbands arms and he is holding me the way he wanted to hold me that night, when I last let go and cried from the depths of my soul, and I am weeping and weeping and I can’t stop and I hear a little voice…saying “Imma!” and I shake even more and wipe my tears and turn to my beautiful little girl.
“Imma, why are you crying?” she asks as I sit her down in her seat and place food on her plate.
So we tell her and she takes it in and process it and tells us about a girl in her class who’s Imma had a baby but the baby wasn’t strong enough to live so it died, and our little boy also wasn’t strong and there wasn’t a medicine that could make him better and we look into each other’s eyes across the table and something settles over us as we begin to heal.
I go to the grocery store in the morning and cook dinner and feel normal as the candle burns and my thoughts are with a departed soul at the same time that I am with those around me.
I have never felt that on this day.
As the sun sets and the flame dies down, I breathe deep and remember how I felt yesterday.
My mother responds to the tormented words I sent her when I didn’t know today could be a real day.
Thanks for sharing. I spoke to the girls yesterday about your (our) loss. It was therapeutic for me as well and I’m glad you can light a candle. Secrets and hidden things don’t sit well with our family.
The support gives me strength to put my pain aside for another year and keep moving on.
Next year I will have the table set, the food warmed and the candle ready.
Next year I will invite a friend in to share the memories.
Next year I will let the tears fall slowly.
And maybe next year, his mother will call to acknowledge our loss and we can finally feel supported enough to grieve.