A Birthday and a Memory

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It’s December 1, 1010. Today is my son’s 10th birthday. He has waited for his birthday  as he does every year with anticipation and excitement. This year is a special treat because I have agreed to take him out for a special Sushi birthday lunch–yes he will be missing a few hours of school–but my daughter still remembers when she got taken out to lunch for her 10th birthday so it’s worth a few hours of lost school time.

It’s also the 4th anniversary since my father died. I have mentioned in previous years that in Judaism we mark the anniversary of someone’s death by the Hebrew calendar so the date moves each year. I have already observed this anniversary of his death or Yartzeit. It fell this year on Friday, November 12th. That night my daughter and I attended synagogue and heard his name read by the Rabbi, said the mourner’s prayer and lit a Yartzeit candle in his memory.

I spoke with my stepmother over the weekend and she prefers to use the English calendar to mark the date since it’s easier to remember. However, I decided in that first year after my father’s death that while I would note it like I am now with a blog post or mention, I preferred to really separate the dates so that my son can feel that my full attention is on his birthday.

The spring before my father died when I had just learned of his terminal diagnosis, I flew back to Vermont to spend several days with him. One of the highlights of that weekend, was seeing a Woody Allen movie, as I remember it wasn’t one that was particularly fantastic but afterwards he took me to one of his favorite sushi restaurants in Burlington, Vermont. We sat at the sushi bar, eating, talking and being in each other’s presence. In fact that entire weekend, I remember was filled with love, lots of food and laughter and none of the angry words that were more typical for our relationship before that point. I hold the memory of that weekend very dear to my heart since we both acknowledged at the end of the visit that it was hard to understand why it had finally taken a terminal diagnosis for us to forgive each other and just love and accept each other warts and all. I know we both left that weekend feeling better understood by the each other and more at peace with our relationship.

So as my son turns 10 today,  I will think about my dad and remember the Sushi meal we shared together, while I enjoy my son and our  celebratory birthday lunch. Perhaps in honor of my dad today, I will even consider letting my son have his dessert first! 

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