Pesach 2022 / The Same Place without the Same People

I was anxious the whole week following up to the big trip. My first time back at my sister’s house for the Passover holiday since both my parents died. I would be staying in the room they always slept in, in the bed I knew as my mothers, sitting on the porch that was my father’s favorite place in the whole world. I knew it would be hard. I knew the second I stepped in that I would feel and breathe in their absence. I anticipated this, and I couldn’t help but be nervous at the prospect of facing this pain but also excited about my first real vacation since my dad died, the longest I’d be away from work and reality. My heart beat anxiously in my chest and I didn’t even bother packing sanely, I threw everything into a suitcase and just waited until the hours ticked by and I was on the plane, away from New York.

My therapist asked if I prepared for it, or if I cried yet.
No, I responded. I’m saving it.

The whole night felt uneasy. The next morning even worse. It started with my mother. Unpacking in the drawers she used, hanging my clothes in the closet that was always hers, my dresses brushing against my father’s shirts that my sister couldn’t bear to throw out or give away. I felt my mother’s absence in a sharp pang, more here than at home. This was always her room to me. This place was always hers.

I made my way outside onto the porch. Immediately, I knew. I knew where my father would sit, would he be here now. I knew exactly what he would say, how he would look, the clothes he’d be wearing, the facial expressions he’d wear. I heard his voice clearly in my mind. I searched. I looked everywhere. He was not here. He would never be here, again. It started to build up, higher and higher from my chest, into my throat, into my eyes. The pain of grief, of loss, of a deep yearning that you know will never be soothed. I couldn’t bear it. I went into the living room and saw a photo of him. My father, sitting exactly where I knew he would be, on the porch I sat moments ago, books in his hand, and smiling with delight.

I broke.

I’m on the porch you loved, the weather is perfect. A dream, you’d say. You’d smile with your newspaper in hand and coffee on the table. You’re wearing your light blue shirt with navy and white stripes and your suspenders. Your phone is in the pocket of your shirt, always making it hang a bit low. Your pants pockets are filled with a pack of cigarettes. Although, whether there are cigarettes next to you must depend if this is before Covid. So then maybe mom is here too. 

She’s unpacking and cooking and running around just being busy and amazing, as always. There is already sweets and cakes piled up in the kitchen, the aroma of the food being prepared for the chag in the air the second you walk downstairs.

Tatty. Why’d you have to die too? This is my first time really feeling real anger. Anger at god for taking you. He had to take mommy, fine. A pain I’ll never heal from. I’ve made peace with her loss, in a way, the best that I can, for the time being. But you too?

Why? You had to die too? 

You couldn’t be here with us, just a little longer? A few years? That’s nothing for Him. Nothing. He is limitless. And yet he takes you for his own. He doesn’t grant us one more Pesach with you. One more time to see you smile, to sit with you on the porch, to hear you speak, to hear you say my name. To see your blue eyes twinkling. To hear your laugh.

Michal, it’s beautiful out. It’s a dream. 

Michal, let’s go get coffee. Let’s get breakfast.
Maybe I’d drive you there. Or would you drive? Would you be sick? How would you have flown here? What if you got an infection? Which hospital would we take you too, and would you make it in time? No, you wouldn’t have made it on the plane, it would have been too dangerous.

It must be that you would only be here if Corona never happened at all.

But then,
I don’t know, I can’t imagine, I can’t see what would have happened, the images are getting hazy because there never was a world where you were healthy and mommy was dead. That never happened. There was never a life where you lived, as before, without mommy. I can’t imagine this as it never existed. You were sick immediately after. A different person. 

No more twinkling eyes and pure happiness. 

So I’m left with nothing. Nothing to imagine. Nothing to wish for, nothing to pray for, only tears of anger and sadness that rush down my face and I see that you are gone. You are so gone and there is nothing I can do about it
And I feel sick with sadness
And nauseous with anger
And empty with yearning

I miss you

I miss you

I miss you

I miss you

I breathe it into the universe and inhale it into my bones and wait for something to happen, for feelings to go away, or for my words to conjure up pure miracles and magic and for you to come back from the dead, I plead it with God, I plead it with you, come back, come back, come back, I miss you, I miss you, I miss you, the words are not sufficient for this emptiness and longing I feel, the words are never enough, nothing is ever enough, and as I cry these words so comes in the fear of the minutes and days to come that push you farther and farther away from me, and the time that I have to live without you, the rest of my life, without you in it, without mommy in it, this fear, this real fear that is no longer a fear but a reality.

I’ll never see you again. Ever.

For the longest time

Until I die

I have no more parents.

I write this, and I cry some more. I call my sister, I cry to her. I text my brother. He voicenotes me. Yes, indeed. It’s hard. I hug my sister. I message my therapist. What do I do with all this pain?
I shower. I get dressed. I finish unpacking. I go out for lunch with my siblings. I nourish my body with food and good weather and I nourish my soul with people and tears and words. I post this, and I wait for the next tears to come. The next moment of pain and the words that will follow, healing and soothing, until the next moments that will come again, that will always come again, pain, and love, and more pain, and bigger love. Grieving moments. The mending words. And always, the people in between.

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