Every year, I would sit down during the three weeks and write. I always wrote about pain and suffering, the land of Israel and the idea of redemption. I couldn’t run away from relating to the entire period so intensely and savagely.
There was always an element of fear that flowed through my emotions. Maybe it was how I was raised. Maybe it was the depressing contatas I sat through every year in Camp Bnos. Maybe it was the Holocaust stories we read every Tisha B’Av. Maybe it was the song of Eicha sending shivers down my spine.
Maybe it was irrational.
Maybe it was real.
Some time has passed since I connected to this mourning period. I have sat shiva. I have ripped my clothes. I have recited kaddish at a grave. Somewhere along the way, I lost the part of me that mourned for the utopia I believed in.
Losing belief; I think that may be what I am mourning for.
I used to feel it.
I used to be able to touch the history of the Jewish people, to smell the burning temple, to hear the wails of mothers walking the narrow alleyways, clutching the emaciated bodies of their young. I used to have the torment that connected me to my heritage, to my land, to my people.
It’s gone now.
I buried some of it with my baby boy. Some of it slipped into the bag of my past I had to let go. I shoved a chunk of it into the dirt that encased my sister. The rest dissolved into the air around me.
I sort of miss it.
Without it, I don’t know why I am here in this land. I am not sure where my place is among my people. I am lost in a world that doesn’t understand the unbearable weight of grief thousands of years old.
Without it, I have to view my own pain as immeasurable against the pain endured by the masses. I have suddenly become an individual with a hurt that cannot be locked in the confines of three weeks, taken out to be inspected for relatability on one day.
Without it, my grief is my own. It comes and goes as it pleases. It has no laws to follow, no schedule to keep. It pulls me back from the little joys I reach for and violently wakes me in the night.
I miss the container within the giant storage box where my grief used to lay; no different than the millions of little boxes cramped together in a collective hold. I miss the opening of the gates as the flock of grief poured up and over and pretended to make a difference for less than a month. I miss the quiet collection as the flock sunk back into the small spaces and clasped the lid shut tight.
I hate that I miss it.
I hate that it’s gone.
The feelings expressed above are rooted in my personal experiences. No two stories are alike, but we can find similarities in our journeys. How do you relate with the concept of mourning on Tisha B’Av? Let me know in the comments below.
2 thoughts on “Letting Grief out to Play”
wow. you write beautifully.
may we sing and dance with joy on sunday. amen. amen. amen. i guess the way to the geula is to want the beit hamikdash as badly as i crave my first cup of coffee in the morning; as bad as most teenagers want their driver’s license; as intensely as we pray for our children and grandchildren to be healthy and happy; to want to hear the leviim playing in all their glory as much as i want to listen to music during the 9-days. to turn all of our wants and needs and desires and prayers to this singular focus: revelation of moshiach tzidkenu. may Hashem think we deserve it…and He will if we can just come together and accept and love each other without being judgmental, non-accepting and prejudice. what does every parent pray for? their children to get along, to always help each other, love one another, take care of their siblings…why do we bless our sons to be like efraim and menashe?: because they were the first brothers in the Tenach (Bible) to get along.
okay. ’nuff said. joy, happiness, health and love of Torat Yisael, by Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.
ariela ben-eliezer, shilo
You do write beautifully, no doubt about that. I just can’t believe that those who do keep the laws and customs surrounding our national mourning periods somehow magically shut up their own personal griefs, only to feel them on certain days, tisha b’av for example. I was never taught that that is what one should do. And I don’t think normal people can do that. In my background I learned the amazing potential and positivity of the three weeks. I will try to follow up and send you something. Xxoo