Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last kaddish

I felt an acute sense of self-consciousness as I entered shul for the combined afternoon and evening services on the last day of saying kaddish. I'd already davened all of Shacharit (see previous post) and now I would be leading the Mincha (afternoon) service. As I davened, everything that I'd felt the previous 11 months seemed to bubble up to the surface: my mother's presence, the discomforts, disorientation, pride, questions, tears, absurdities. I was reluctant to take leave of these feelings but also felt relief at having reached an end point. I sensed the pride my mother would have felt in my accomplishment along with profound sadness over the reason behind my accomplishment.

After the end of the evening Ma'ariv service came the first kaddish in which I wasn't obligated to participate since November 25 of last year. It was so strange. People who I'd been saying kaddish with for months began to say kaddish. I wasn't supposed to join in. But I couldn't help it. I don't know if was just habit or an emotional need, but I couldn't restrain myself. The words and the thoughts behind them wanted to emerge. So I mouthed them quietly and put my hand over my mouth. That was my personal "half" kaddish.

By the next morning, that feeling had already faded. I was ready to be a responder to kaddish rather than a participant. As I write these words, a few days later, I'm growing ever more comfortable with my new role in shul. I'm no longer a member of the "club" of mourners. (see I'm just a regular congregant again.

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