Please don’t go to Florida
Believe it or not I do pay rapt attention to David’s blobs. And for the most part, I like what I read. It does piss me off that he always has pictures on his blob while I have to beg him when I want pictures on mine, but that’s another blob and an old story. Or is something about begging a Jewish joke? Whatever. The closer we get to the Jewish holidays the more reflective we seem to get, at least in the Burnett household. It may be because we are getting on in years, but I have always been reflective close to the Jewish High Holy days. I enjoy taking a little time to think about what has happened in the past year and either laugh about events, or shed a few tears. I love going to a service where on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, there is something in the service that not only tugs at my heart strings, but rips my heart out. In fact, I select the service I will attend dependent on the ripping out capability of the service and the leader — The Congregants rather than a Rabbi conduct the service where we usually attend, and they always find someone who will make you wail rather than just weep.
David’s latest blob took me right to the same place about loss that it took him. But I feel loss more during the Jewish New Year because it is on Yom Kippur that we say Kaddish, which is a prayer for the dead. I say the prayer for my dad. And I say it for friends who I know will not be included in anyone else’s Kaddish. Some of those friends are Jewish but were not religious, and some were Christians. And although I think about them all the time, it makes me feel closer to them for that moment we share in the Kaddish.
My parents operated on the same theory as David’s. Children were to be protected from real life. So my first funeral was my grandfather's and here’s what I remember. My aunts (there were seven of them) were all screaming and crying and screaming and crying, and then as if that weren't awful enough, my Aunt Sara decided to jump into the grave. She was pulling forward with my Aunt Sophie pulling her back, with Aunt Fritzie hanging on to Aunt Sophie, with Aunt Helene hanging on to Aunt Fritzie, with Aunt Peppy hanging on to Aunt Helene, with Aunt Betty yelling "If she wants to go, let her go," with Uncle Jack (the only male sibling) shouting "calm down, calm down." And my mother shrieking "Papa don't leave me”, and pushing Aunt Sara aside to get to the front. By the time the Rabbi began the service it was dusk, and by the time it was over it was dark, so we (the grandchildren) were sent back to New Jersey to go to sleep. How’s that for being sensitive to the concerns of your children? I’m not complaining. I didn’t mind not being exposed to hysteria with every family death but I, like David, had no real introduction to loss. And it doesn’t end in my family. We refuse to deal with any absence. When we talk about family members who have died we talk about them like they’re still around but they happen to be living in Florida. When we were young that’s where they went for the winter so why not keep them there year round. It’s so much easier than thinking about them like they have disappeared forever.
David and I always hated it when someone said, “the late Mr. So-and-So. Or the late Ms. Whoever.” We would always yell, “He’s not late, he’s not coming.” And so when I go through my Palm looking for a number and I come across old friends like Bella Abzug or Betty Friedan, or close friends like Penn Kemble or Jeff MacNelly or Mark Krasno, I always think — they’re not late. They’re not coming. And that makes me very angry and incredibly sad. But I, like David can’t take them out of my Palm. They remain in my rolodex and will remain in my heart until I cannot make entries or have no more tears. Besides, there is not reason to think they are not coming. I find it much more comforting to think of them in a place that they loved, where I am not. Usually it’s somewhere in Florida where I do not go. And now, when we find out that our friends are ill we always think, please don’t let them go to Florida. We’re just sayin… Iris