Closing Another Chapter

Dearest Baba, 

From seven o’clock this morning until four, I shuffled back and forth from the kitchen to my office. First, I started the bread machine to make challah. Then, I hopped on a Zoom call. (A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t have known what this means, but you would now.) Then, I started the chicken soup. Then, another Zoom. Then the kneddels, followed by another Zoom. And so, it went. Hour after hour, I juggled the various meal preparations for tonight’s dinner along with work-related necessities that simply could not wait until next week.  

I had this “sixth sense” thing going all day. I truly sensed your presence. You even whispered in my ear, saying I shouldn’t make the soup too salty, or I’d be thirsty during the twenty-five-hour fast. You admired my matzah balls, saying they looked just like yours. And my challah? Well, you – for some reason – never made challah, so your compliments and admiration were genuine. I swear, you were here with me today. 

Maybe your presence feels so strong this time of year because you died right before Rosh Hashanah in 2019. Maybe I just channel my memories of you in a more focused way when I cook things that are associated with you. Maybe your ever-presence in my life is because Ryan insists on calling me “Baba.” 

I told you, when Ryan was born, I wanted to be a Bubbie. To me, you, your mother, Zaydie’s mother, and my own mom were “Baba.” So I wanted to be different; even a bit more traditional. And, since Ruth Bader Ginsburg (z”l) was called Bubbie, I certainly could be one too. You said, “Nu, good luck.”

Maybe you knew something I didn’t. Because Ryan made up his own mind. When he started to talk, right up there with Dada, Mama, and Yaya, he started calling me Baba. Zol zayin azoy…..let it be that way. I’ll just have to live out my years chasing your example.

The aura of you made me feel a bit sad today. In the two years you’ve been gone, we haven’t been together as a big family for a holiday meal in Florida. You and Zaydie were the convenient excuse to come down, since you couldn’t travel anymore, and we willingly obliged. But without you, my poor parents — and we — have suffered. In addition, due to COVID, we haven’t even been able to celebrate Rosh Hashanah at Craig’s. I miss being at his services, going to Tashlich, and his shofar blowing. So, yes. Today I feel blah and just need a good cry. I miss you and my family. Everything feels different now.

Since March of 2020, I haven’t been able to write. I have vacillated between panic, confusion, profound sadness, and general inertia. I remained optimistic and hopeful, but generally unmotivated. I can’t explain this total “languishing” to which I’ve succumbed. But today it ends. On Saturday I turn sixty. I have to get a grip on who I am and what I want of my future years.

It’s the day of Erev Yom Kippur. Tonight, we’ll eat a good traditional meal. Tomorrow, we will fast. Tonight, we’ll join the Orangetown Jewish Center’s Kol Nidre services online. Tomorrow, we’ll continue to Zoom-in on other prayer services to reflect and atone. Tonight, I’ll assess the sins I’ve committed this past year. Tomorrow, I’ll argue with God that sins committed since 2020 should be forgiven in the wake of this ongoing pandemic. And then we’ll move on.

I hope it all goes well, Baba. I want start living and enjoying again. I want to get on with making memories with Ryan and Evan….and those grandchildren (God-willing) to come….like the beautiful memories I have with you. So, if you have any pull up in heaven, now’s a good time to cash in on favors. Either way, I love you and miss you.

Gmar Hatima Tova. May we all be sealed in the Book of Life.