This Saturday’s Torah portion is Eikev. It translates roughly to to “if.” Moses continues his last sermon? speech? lesson? I’m not really sure how it’s defined. But essentially, it’s his last schpiel before the Israelites finally cross over into the Promised Land. Their wandering is drawing to an end.
Eikev takes on a special significance; it’s been a complete Jewish lunar year since Larry’s Nan passed away. This Sunday is her grave unveiling. This is a Jewish custom that varies by community; a tombstone is prepared and laid, but it remains covered for a year. It marks the “last” phase of formal Jewish mourning: yahrzeit. (I put last in quotes because we never really stop mourning.) The first two phases are shiva, the first seven days, and then shloshim, the next 30 days. Yahrzeit marks the anniversary.
While Nan is always remembered in our hearts every day, we remember her especially on her yahrzeit: a special candle is lit in her memory that burns for 24 hours.
I have always been drawn to the marking of time in Judaism, rather, more specifically: the sanctification of time, how every moment in our lives is sacred, blessed. Because you never know when things can change in a moment, how a life can be hinged upon a single word: …If.
Mel over at Stirrup Queens had an absolutely haunting post on Monday. Quick summary: she and her entire family could have all been killed in a single moment on the highway in Pennsylvania, caught in those crazy storms that swept through the mid-Atlantic region last weekend. All that separated her family and the inevitable were just a few fractions of a second.
Those same storms roared through College Park, Maryland. Right over the neighborhood we lived in for three years. Less than a mile from our first apartment, a former colleague of mine from the University of Maryland was killed in those storms. A massive tree fell on her car, killing her instantly. She is being laid to rest tomorrow.
Michelle Humanick was 44, wife and mother of two. I had always respected and admired her graphic design work in the department; I respected her even more when she left the University to spend more time with her family. I only learned through news reports they had adopted their two daughters, their youngest less than a year ago. For some reason, maybe because we hope to be adoptive parents ourselves one day, this just made me so much sadder to hear.
This weekend is not all death and endings. Tonight we head to my sister’s so that I can see Willow for the first time since she was born. It’s amazing how much she’s grown in a month. More astonishing is the general idea of how much a human body will grow and develop in that time- the body is a wonder, indeed. I am digging this whole Auntie thing.
Close friends of ours have officially announced to the world that they are expecting their second child. We’ve known for a few weeks now and we are still just as overjoyed for them. She’s due in March and we are already excited to get to meet the newest addition to their family.
We’re 99% of the way there on the house. The purchase and sale agreement has been completed. We’ve been approved for the FHA loan. The bank intends to underwrite said loan. Now we’re just waiting on some complicated paperwork from the sellers. It’s the last hurdle between us and closing on August 12. I am really hoping we make it to closing, otherwise we’re going to have to put everything in storage and sleep on some couches. This mortgage/loan thing is driving me nuts. As Larry puts it, it’s like the Tuesday before the wedding on Saturday: all you can do is wait.
And so we wait.
. . .
Life, death, and these moments of holiness and santification where we can find them. Each moment hinged upon branches of possibility, pinned only in place by one single little word: if. And these ifs, ticking away like sacred seconds.