I am alone today–a strange comfort for someone who normally hates being alone. I have asked to stay behind at the hotel, begging off from a big family lunch due to “not feeling well” for these few hours of solitary. It has occurred to me that I might offend, but so desperate am I to be alone, that I have decided to take my chances.
The world has gotten very complicated in the span of a few days as we stare at the gap in a family and do what we can to stare it down, ignore it, gingerly step around the gaping hole. The children suddenly have no mother.
I can’t bear it. I am falling apart. I’ve regressed to a state of mind and behavior that I have not visited in over ten years–my support network has disappeared by virtue of the fact that I am a long ways from home and friends in the face of tragedy and so I surprise myself by relying on old and unhealthy coping strategies. What can I do? I’ve got to make it to the next hour, let alone the next day, somehow intact. I’m supposed to be here to support others. I’m failing.
Our lives are changed forever.
Shiva is over now, the family is out in the world.
It is an entirely haunting experience to be in this place.
The other day I went to Shouk Ha’Carmel (Carmel Market), for both fresh air, distraction, alone time, and to run errands. As I left the market, a blue plastic bag followed me, carried by the wind, like the bag (“the most beautiful thing in the world”) in the movie American Beauty. It looped graceful arcs in the vicious wind coming off the Mediterranean.
I noticed it because of its unexpected beauty, reminding me of a non-aquatic cousin of jellyfish. As I walked back to the hotel a few blocks away, the bag continued to follow me.
By the time I reached the hotel I figured the bag and I would part company. As I entered the doors, opening my bags to the ubiquitous Israeli security, I forgot about the blue flying bag.
When I got up to the twenty-second floor, I set down the bags of food: tangerines, drinks, cheese, and other snacks, pointedly void of meat per Jewish laws regarding shiva. But as I did so, my husband pointed and shouted, “Look! A bag!”
The blue bag was dancing in the wind outside the window.
It was the same bag that followed me from the market. Now it looked like a ghost to me. How could such a bag have flown up over twenty stories? It was a windy day, but what a peculiar path it had taken.
We came to the conclusion that it must be the spirit of their mother–she must have accompanied me from the market (she loved markets) and flown up to bid us greeting.
These days, I grit my teeth to make it through to the next day. I am still feeling the effects of my stroke–my exhaustion, my inability to manage large social groups and settings, my overwhelming emotions, are all taxing me. These days, life is all about exhaustion, large social groups and settings, and overwhelming emotions.
I miss home. I miss friends. I miss the way things used to be.