It’s holiday vacation time. Everyone I know is spending this week and/or next with family and friends. Some are at home enjoying activities. Some are away. I’ve seen Facebook postings of snow or sun in many popular destinations.
I’m in Mexico. In the sun. At the pool. Coffee and two piña coladas were served for breakfast. Around me, the mood is festive. Music is playing in the background. Beach volleyball is underway. Water aerobics is starting. I am in the perfect spot to catch up on work, read my book or sleep. So, why don’t I feel happy or relaxed?
I’m nervous about the approach of 2019. This is so unlike me. Rarely am I depressed or pessimistic about the future. Each new year lays out new options and opportunities; new paths to take and new relationships to build. And I usually look forward to embracing each. I hate the feeling of holding my breath…waiting for more to follow.
But, as the days count down to January, I feel a lump in my throat and pressure in my chest that won’t wash down; no matter how much alcohol I consume. Three years ago, this time of year, my father-in-law passed away. Two years ago, my aunt passed away. They are missed and it’s hard to enjoy this time without remembering their funerals.
In 2019, I know — in my core — my grandparents are going to take their leave of us. The pain that accompanies this knowledge is real…and deep…no matter how I rationalize that “it’s time.” When my son and daughter-by-marriage called to check in after visiting with Baba and Zaydie earlier this week, their remark “we felt like we were saying goodbye [for good]” felt like a knife to the heart.
In last week’s Torah portion, Jacob (also known as Israel) gave each son a personally relevant blessing as he prepared to die. Likewise, as my grandfather (also known as Israel) approaches his own transition, he has a blessing to bestow upon us. But ours won’t be uniquely suited to our individual characters or life stages. Ours will be the same. More than anything, he wishes us all luck and success…with our careers, our children and our lives. He knew about disappointments, challenges and feelings of betrayals. Yet despite all, he felt lucky and wants us to feel lucky too. Unlike Jacob, Zaydie would never “call us out” or tell us we disappointed him in any way. And so, with his inevitable passing, we only can wish he truly was proud of us.
All that said, if I were to stop and read to my grandfather what I’ve written so far, he’d shake his head and say “come on.” He tell me I’m being non-sensical. That of course he’s proud. Then he’d share stories about the things I’ve said and done to make him proud over the years…from my choice of husband to my children to papers I’ve written to things I’ve done in the community and on and on.
And so, as I cry and write while overlooking the bluest of waters, I guess my concerns about embracing 2019 are more about letting go of 2018 and the years — and people — before. But facing forward we must. Our ancestors and life itself demand it. New job opportunities, new babies, and new memories are calling. The past will inform and encourage them all.
Okay. Enough. I’m okay….more than okay….2019, bring it on! Time to order another drink.