December 14th, 2007

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The Final Mourner's Kaddish

Today is the last day for me to recite Mourner's Kaddish for my mom.

Because it's a Friday, Nomi and I asked friends of ours who live near the shul if we could come over for dinner, and we're looking forward to enjoying their hospitality tonight. This afternoon, I'm going to go to the Mincha service, during which I will recite Mourner's Kaddish. Immediately following it will be the Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv service, and I suspect that some folks may have a momentary minor jolt when they realize that my voice is no longer among the chorus reciting the Mourner's Kaddish.

There will be no fanfare to mark the moment, just a quiet acknowledgment that my year of mourning has only one Hebrew month left to go.

I find myself with mixed feelings. On the one hand, and I know this isn't the best way to phrase it, but I'm sick and tired of mourning. I want it to be over with, so I can get back to a closer semblance of normality in my life.

On the other hand...

On the other hand, after you lose a parent, you never want the world to stop acknowledging that loss. Obviously, in the week and month immediately following the death, you need a lot more special consideration. But for the rest of my life, I will be an "orphaned adult," and I would want people to know that and to understand that in their dealings with me. Reciting the Mourner's Kaddish is a very public way of reminding people of your current fragility; that reminder will now get lost in the seas of time.

Of course, we still do other things to remind the world. The Cheshvan before my Mom died, Nomi and I sponsored a kiddush at our shul in honor of my father's yahrzeit. In a way, it helped stave off questions people might have asked; when my mom died, folks already were aware that my father was out of the equation. After my year of mourning is complete, Nomi and I will most likely sponsor a kiddush again, to commemorate my mom and to remind the community that my year is complete. (Amusingly enough, we won't be able to sponsor a kiddush right after the year ends, as that would be Arisia weekend and we'll be at the convention.)

But even though I will continue to remember my mom, and my dad, today's final recitation of the Mourner's Kaddish means that the third phase of mourning is complete. I enter the fourth phase tonight, and, a month from now, the fifth and final phase...which will last for the rest of my life.