The Nearness Of You

One of my best friends got married recently.

She warned a group of us before the wedding.

I’m really worried I’m going to get really overwhelmed by missing my mom at the wedding. I know I’m gonna cry…

And at the wedding she did. We all did. All of New York City wept.

And she kept apologizing for it.

I searched for the words for days after. What I would have wanted to hear.

Enjoy this feeling. This is the closest you can be to her anymore. This is the moment her memory is fieriest within you. This is the moment her spirit is embracing you. This feeling of missing her is the strongest rope between you now. Seeing her in your day today is a blessing. Even if the only way you see her is through words or tears. Feel it and see it and remember it as long and as hard as you can.


It’s Mourning In America

This week I voted without my dad.

And for the first time probably ever, I was glad he was dead. That he wasn’t here to see this.

I couldn’t have known how much of Dad would be in this election for me.

I mourned today.

He taught me how to do that.

I was struck all day today by the similarity between how I felt today and how I felt on that day.

A lot of people are comparing the tone in the city today with that of 9/11/01.

Mournful, solemn and communal.

I cried a lot on the subway this morning. Quietly but very openly. And while it’s no surprise that I was left alone, I was surprised by how not-alone I felt. No one seemed to be wondering why. Everyone seemed to be with me. With her.

It reminded me of a very particular moment crying on the subway after Dad died. I was on the Q train going over the bridge into Manhattan and there was a little girl in a tutu swinging on her dads arms. Each dad holding one of her hands and them lifting her together. I was so jealous in that moment, so overwhelmed. I cried the rest of the train ride and the first hour or so that I was at work.

One of the dads kept noticing me noticing him. I felt so alone in my grief that day. So determined to cry it out just to get it out of my own body.

And I remember after 9/11 the distinct lack of loneliness. I don’t remember crying much then. I didn’t completely get the specialness of what had happened yet. But the feeling was still there. The knowing eye contact, the stranger with their chin up, reminding you that there will again be sun.

Today was the combination of those two days. I felt grief and I took comfort in the community sharing it with me.

Death, Feelings

Voting Without Dad

The last good day I had with my dad was voting day 2012.

He loved voting. Loved politics. Loved talking big ideas.

I still have the Ford/Dole pin that he proudly wore to the polls that day.

“You can’t wear that inside, Sir.”

“Oh, yes I can. You see it’s a bit outdated.”

He wasn’t walking so well but I guess he had timed his medications that morning so that he would have maximum energy to get out of the house and to the local school. I remember buckling and unbuckling him in the car, pulling him out of it when we got there. I remember him putting both his hands on my shoulders, as he often did, and using me as a more size-appropriate walker.

I stopped to take a picture outside with the “Vote Aqui” sign.

Then we went inside. My dad, clearly the gentlest giant in the land, always attracted attention. Every little old lady in the gymnatorium wanted to help direct us.

“My daughter will take my ballot. To the booths!”

I filled out both of our ballots the same.

“Just straight down Democratic.”

And then I walked us to the machine that scans the paper ballot, collected our stickers and we went home.

He had a heart attack two weeks later.

I know I saw him in those two weeks. I must have, I was living with him. But I don’t have any memories of it. I was running off to work, sleeping over with friends, living my own life which he never seemed to begrudge me.

He died the day before Thanksgiving that year and my aunt and uncle came as soon as they heard.

“Well I guess dinner tomorrow is off.”

“Why on earth would we cancel Thanksgiving? That won’t help anything.”

It was a weird thanksgiving but aren’t all family holidays? I expected all following Thanksgivings to be hard but the next one snuck up on me. And the next, and the next. Much the same way that you’re always surprised at the answer you have to give when people ask how old your little siblings are now.

But voting for president, that’s something I never envisioned doing without talking to my dad about it.

So, Happy Quadrennial-iversary, Dad. I know that somewhere you’re really amused by all of this. Just write down all the jokes you’re coming up with, I’ll read them later.


Dating, Feelings

A Little More Tashlich

The times I miss him most are the times I remember doing things that would have sucked without him. The pinnacle of which being one specific day. What I consider the climax of our relationship. Sometimes I feel like the only way to take back the part of me he has is to give it away to as many people as possible. To diminish the amount of the relationship that he holds by spreading it around carelessly to anyone who will listen.

So to that end I’ve been spreading around pinnacle of our relationship, the moment I knew I was in love. In the hopes that it dulls the vibrancy of his hold over me, that it breaks off a few little pieces of the memory, so that it exists in fragments all around instead of whole and in my head.

It’s helping.


Dating, Love

How I Fell In Love With A Dog Instead Of His Jew. OR More Musings On What Love Might Be based On A Single Intoxicated Evening. 

The other night I hung out with a very charming guy. Pretty, Jewish, artistic, great taste in music, incredible dog.

Really incredible dog.

And I think I fell in love with his pup. When I met her she brought me a toy to throw and every time she would bring it she would tug on it. Soon I realized that if I didn’t tug back then she would be forced to just drop it for me. We trained each other.

At one point I put one hand on the toy and looked at her. And she looked back in understanding and let it go for me.

And I understood how one could love a dog. Love. Like you love a child or a family member, or someone who also loves your favorite book.

Maybe love is just a series of infinitesimal moments of understanding.

Like the one I had with this incredible dog.

The guy on the other hand (for the record, very recently out of a multi-year relationship) we had a moment or two like that and then either we ran out of things to connect on or, I think is more likely, he didn’t want to be having those moments so soon. He wasn’t ready for them.

But what do I know about his heart, who am I?

Dating, Feelings

Tashlich And Watching The Memories Float Away

In Judaism we have a tradition called Tashlich where on Jewish New Year we throw pieces of bread into lakes.

Tashlich comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to cast,” referring to the intent to cast away our sins via this meaningful and ancient Jewish custom common to both Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities. [x]

The pieces are meant to symbolize things we are atoning for.

It has the very graceful effect of letting you watch as the things you feel bad about mingle with the thousands of things other people in your community regret doing and then floating away forever. Even just the repetitive motion as you mentally relive those moments, its a kind of therapy.

Whenever I experience a loss I’m always reminded of how much I talk. I talk about the person I lost and wish I could shut up and then the words just keep coming. Sometimes it feels like I won’t be rid of them until I finish speaking each and every breadcrumb they are. Every good and every bad. However long that takes.

Dating, Feelings

Things That Lost-Love Might Be Based On My Limited Experience With It

Watching your favorite movie and only being able to hear them making fun of it.

Looking at your wardrobe and only seeing their reaction to each piece, instead of the piece itself.

The inability to listen to music without crying.

Wondering what they’re thinking.

Wondering what they’re regretting.


But only sort of.

There is strength in the ability to remain soft after the world has tried relentlessly to toughen you up.

Noor Shirazie

Death, Feelings, Grief

Remember: You Are Not Your Emotion

I’ve led a pretty emotionally privileged life. I’ve never battled mental illness, anxiety disorders, the problems that a lot of my favorite humans have faced.

The only time I’ve ever had to use this kind of manual to my own emotions was in the year after I lost my dad. In the beginning every feeling I felt seemed so overwhelming. Guilt, sadness, anger. Whichever one was around took over my entire brain and body. I became the guilt, I was walking sadness, I was the embodiment of anger.

Recently a friend of mine lost her father and I called her to talk about it. She described her feelings of guilt and it was like having a phone call with my past self. I didn’t have it written down at the time but the way I finally learned to deal with my emotions was basically discovering this flow. Like it’s yoga.

Back bend, emotion in.

Forward fold, notice the emotion.

Half up, feel the emotion.

Forward fold, do you know why the emotion?

Plank, name the emotion.

Upward facing dog, accept the emotion.

Down dog, emotion out.

Like a wave. In and out.

Otherwise living in each emotion, letting them consume you, well; they’ll consume you.


Death, Grief

What Happens After You Die

Today I told my shrink that in the last year since Dad died I’m quicker to anger. It really just feels like all the emotions are just more within reach. I can tap into them all so much easier. When I want to and when I really don’t want to.

And she said that when something big happens and you have a lot of emotions about it, it can throw off your emotional balance. It can make you quicker to anger and sadness and exuberance and love. Every emotion is just a little closer to the surface.

So if you were wondering. Just in case you were curious if everything would be easier if you just weren’t here anymore. The answer is no.

This is what happens after you die. Everyone who loved you changes, some a little and some a lot. Everyone has to learn how to navigate their emotions all over again. Everyone is angry at you and everyone loves you. Everyone is having a lot more feelings than they ever did before, and for the rest of their lives and it isn’t any easier. Not at all.