I just reread my Yom Kippur post from last year, which told a story from two years past on Yom Kippur. And I recently reread Adrienne’s blog post from last Yom Kippur. Looking back is in the spirit of this solemn day, when we think about our transgressions, contemplate atonement and forgiveness, and resolve to be as good as we can be, while loving ourselves even in our imperfection, in the year to come.
Today at services, I could feel Eric sitting beside me. He is so present to me still, and no more so than on days that are rich with all he brought into my life — a spiritual practice that has stayed deeply meaningful for me, with rituals and traditions that keep me connected to friends and family and him.
In a couple of hours, David and I will go over to Mark and Andi’s to continue a tradition we’ve started since Eric died. In the years before Eric’s death, we had started going back into Concord to attend the Memorial and Concluding Services for Yom Kippur. In the midst of the thoughtful swoon that a day of fasting and reflection brings on, getting dressed again for services and driving back into Concord was a lot, but we’d come to count on the tradition.
The year after Eric died Adrienne and Sam and I planned to go back into Concord, after the break from the morning service, for the Memorial and Concluding Services. Being part of the Memorial Service was particularly important to me. But we didn’t make it. I don’t remember exactly why but it was probably a combination of grief and exhaustion. We went to Mark and Andi’s and broke fast with them. We didn’t make it back into Concord the following year either, and by the third Yom Kippur after Eric died, David was in my life and Laura had just died.
“I really want to go to Memorial Services, ” I said to Sam, who was home that year. “But I really don’t want to go back into Concord to the Temple.”
“Do your own service,” Sam said, and we did. I have a copy of the High Holy Days prayer book at home, because when I went to see the Rabbi after Eric died, and asked for his suggestions for helpful readings on the Jewish response to death and grief, he said he thought the Yom Kippur Memorial Service in the prayer book was as good as anything, and I took a copy home. So three years ago I picked out readings and we created our own Memorial and Concluding Service with Mark and Andi. And did it again last year. And will do it again today.
The photo above is from the first Yom Kippur after Eric died, just about 5 months after. The photo makes me think about all that’s changed in the five years, and six High Holy Day seasons since he’s been gone. Mark and Andi and I visited his grave after this morning’s service, and told stories about our lives then and now that made us laugh. Eric loves that — all of us laughing and loving and carrying on our rituals in whatever way keeps us connected to Judaism and to him.