Qaddish Yatom

Qaddish Yatom

Not every day
but for many days
in two years, nearly,
crammed together like so much gravel,
I said this prayer.

Your name is exalted,
over and over, no music to fall into,
the crumbled voices hushed and intent.
Angry, sometimes,
spoken praise cracking like tablets on stone –
when G-d is everywhere and also right here,
did we escape His notice?
What good is G-d’s glory when G-d does not cure?
My mother and father obliged me
to praise G-d daily
but, in mercy, not to sing those praises.

I could say this prayer
in my sleep.
It is the first one I learned as an adult,
really learned,
so that it hushes my body
and I breathe with its phrases
even when I listen and do not speak.

Revisiting it daily in this new, analytical place
feels like a date with the therapist:
“I want you to go deeper with this. Own your emotions.”
Why does our tradition demand that we do more than grieve?
We are required
to continue to see worth in the world, and in G-d,
the very day that loss robs the song from our voices.
We are required
to surround ourselves in community, a minyan or more,
even when our own company feels more than we can bear.
I have to sit with my anger, and my grief, and my gratitude.
I have to stand up and proclaim
that loss does not define me, that exultation endures,
that my soul did not leave this world with theirs.

As my great-aunt said:
Fake it till you make it.


– VB, February 19th, 2012


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