This I Believe
When I set out to write this essay the first thing that came to me
was: I Believe in Fairy Tales. I have been grappling for a long time with what the Mourner’s Kaddish means to me.
When my father died four years ago, I intended to say the Kaddish for only thirty days. But I kept going in part because I wasn’t ready to stop mourning for him and because I loved the lore and fantasy associated with the Kaddish.
For so many years I stood by helplessly as my father got sicker and sicker. Now Dad and I had a whole eleven months together in which he could ascend to heaven on the breath of my Kaddish. It was the ultimate fairy tale.
I believe that we never stop grieving for the people we love.
I believe that my father-in-law, who was the most organized CPA in the world and proved it by playing golf every April 15, is still playing eighteen holes on that day with God.
I believe that there is nothing more whole than a broken heart.
I believe in inter-generational relationships even if the other person is dead.
I believe that reading the short published biographies in the newspaper of people who died at the World Trade Center was the best way I could say the Kaddish for them.
I believe that we go from Dust to Dust—And in between we are covered with the Dust of the World Trade Center, the Dust of the Sudan, the Dust kicked up by 4,000 Ketusha rockets launched into Israel.
I believe in prayer, but I think I do it the wrong way. While everyone around me is engrossed in the in their prayer books, I’m looking for something—inspiration, grace, the time. Maybe I’m like Jacob who realized God was in this place and he did not even know it. I believe the psalmist who says that we should be still and know God.
I believe that memory is inevitably imperfect and in its imperfection it is achingly exquisite and life affirming.
I believe that the truth is more important than the facts.
I believe in my father’s brand of patriotism. I think that America is as big and brassy and beautiful as a John Phillip Sousa March. My Dad believed that a flag was more than a piece of cloth. I think I do too, but I’m so afraid of jingoism. Dad was not a religious man, but he was a reverent one. For that alone I believe he didn’t need my help in making it to heaven, but he was glad to have it anyway.
I believe in one God.
I believe in the God of my grandmother, my mother and my aunt. They’ve been through a lot.
I believe that God’s fate is in our hands.
I believe that God is in this place and that we are still not sure about it.
I believe that my father and father-in-law are reading over my shoulder.
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