Yesterday was my father’s 11th yahrzeit (“anniversary of death”). This was the first year that I wasn’t home with my family commemorating this day with our community. (My brother studies an entire tractate of Talmud each year to make a siyum—a celebratory meal, which is done, among other times, when one completes a tractate of Talmud).
Since I couldn’t be there in person (I was able to FaceTime in, thank G-d!) this year I decided to compile a booklet of memories which people have about my father.
In my book First Comes Self-Love, Then Comes Marriage, I discuss in detail how I dealt with my father’s sudden passing, or more accurately, didn’t quite deal with it. I’ve been told many times that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I work hard on not judging myself for how I handled my father’s sudden death, but, truth be told, I still do. But I did what I had to at that time.
I’ve always labeled that first year after my dad passed away as one in which I was in the denial phase of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief. I was in denial other times throughout my 20s as well, but it was more intense and constant during this first year.
Compiling this booklet of memories now and reading what close family and friends have to say about how my father touched their lives so deeply, truly enables me to slow down and think about my father. It brings me such joy and comfort, I honestly feel like I could spend every day reading and compiling these memories.
On the one hand, therefore, it is hard to go back to the daily grind after having paused and allowed the reality of who my father was and how much I miss him to sink in.
On the other hand, so much of what I do and who I am is from my father, so I also find great comfort in that.