Jolene would have been 25 today. Maybe I’ll buy a cake in remembrance.
Like sitting shiva, another Jewish mourning custom that resonates with me is that of saying Kaddish. Not Kaddish itself...a prayer for the dead...but the length. A full year after death. Something about a year brings some closure, finality, a readiness to move on.
All day Friday people kept trying to jolly me along. I finally told one friend, “I want to wallow in grief today.”
Well, not really. What I did want was permission to remember, to cry, to grieve. Many days I push the tears away and focus on something else. But over the weekend, I wanted to hold Jolene and my loss close to my heart. At last, when it was time to get ready for work, I broke down. Sobs spilled out. Talia (my cat) kept wandering around my legs, echoing my cries with her own.
I met with a writers group on Friday night—a safe place where I could cry and be comforted. Instead I was caught up in passionate debate about the writer’s craft, and story. I’m doing the same thing tomorrow, when a group of friends from church will gather with me after work.
Yesterday our pastor preached about Job, “The Man Who Was Good for Nothing.” He addressed the question of why bad things happen to some people and not to others.
I told him I felt like he had consulted the calendar, noted the anniversary, and planned his sermon with me in mind. He hadn’t, of course. But the Holy Spirit had.
One of the points he made was that God rewarded Job after tragedy struck, and we could expect the same. It left me with a sense of anticipation, as had the words of one of the praise songs. I will leave everything behind, I will follow you for all of my life. I am leaving Denver and going to Oklahoma to begin a new chapter of my life. God has clearly led our steps. I don’t know what God has in mind, but I believe it will be good.
Jolene will always be part of me, but it is time to leave Kaddish behind.