Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Getting ready to say goodbye to kaddish

I am getting ready to say goodbye to kaddish. I've said over 2500 kaddishes (average of 8 per day, so about 240 per month times 11 months). (See http://mykaddishyear.blogspot.com/2012/02/quality-or-quantity.html) When I look at that number, it's difficult to believe how often I've recited it.

Now I have only 16 kaddishes left (not counting those I will recite annually on my mother's Yahrzeit). Actually, I wasn't sure when exactly my kaddishes ended. One rabbi told me that you say kaddish for 11 full months after burial, which would make tomorrow, the 25th of Tishrei, the last day. Another rabbi told me I should say kaddish for 11 months plus a day. I was happy about that because in a strange way, I don't want it to end, so I'll follow the latter's decision.

I mean I do want it to end, but I don't. It's both. It's both because kaddish has been like a friend to me. It's not only a prayer I say. I've internalized it. It's become part of me. Sometimes it's meant a lot to me and helped me mourn, other times it was just words. At times I felt the words were emanating from my mouth involuntarily, as if I they were disassociated from my being. My lips were moving and making the sounds of the words. But were the words mine? Or coming from somewhere else? From some place inside of me that I do not know exists?

But at the end of every prayer service, the kaddish was there for me. Now I feel I'm getting ready to say goodbye to a dear friend. (Am I leaving my friend or is my friend leaving me?) Like friends, we were closer at some times than others. The approach of the date of parting means I'm reaching another milestone in the process of mourning. I'm forced to confront in a more vivid way the reason I've been saying kaddish these months: my mother died. Yes she did. The sadness and tears move again to the surface. And as I prepare to say goodbye to kaddish, I am also saying another painful goodbye to her.

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