This is the time of year Jews are supposed to reflect on their lives, repent for their sins and pray to get written into the book of life for next year. It is hard to explain, but the spirit and consequences of this holiday have reached almost mythical proportions in my psyche.
Take, for example, the story of my reunion with my life long friend Tina. For whatever reason, and I truly don’t remember why, after being inseparable (not geographically but emotionally) for the first 25 years of our live, we had a fight, and stopped speaking. She was in Wisconsin and I was in Washington, and we just didn’t speak for about eight years.
The passage of time did not make things better. It just amplified the distance we maintained from one another. Year after year my thoughts were with or about her. Her children were like my kids and I wanted her to know my daughter and son. I adored her husband and her friends. Yet, for whatever reason, it seemed too difficult just to pick up the phone and reconnect. Until the Yom Kippur eight years after the foolish separation.
That was the year the Rabbi’s sermon was a story about how he had a very close childhood friend who, after three years of college, was too troubled to return for his final semester. The Rabbi came home for a long vacations and, despite his mother’s encouragement, he never called his pal. As with most young people, he felt there was no hurry and there would always be another time. Over the years there were many opportunities to call or visit the friend because he was still living at home -- just a block away from the Rabbi. But he thought there was no rush. Maybe it was because his mother pestered him, maybe because he was embarrassed about his neglect or maybe, after all those years, he felt he had nothing to say. Anyway, one Yom Kippur while he was in Rabbinical school, he remembered how important their friendship had been to him and he thought it was time to play catch up.
When the Rabbi called home for his friend’s number his mother was almost silent. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “Bill died two weeks ago. He never seemed able to cope with life, and he’s gone. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think you would care.”
In closing the sermon the Rabbi shared his sadness and how he knew that had he been in touch with Bill, maybe there was something he might have done. At the very least, Bill would have known he had one friend who cared. The Rabbi then suggested that if we had been separated from a dear friend, no matter the reason, don’t wait for an opportune time. Just pick up the phone before it was too late.
I didn’t call Tina right away. I thought it would be uncomfortable for both of us. OK, I was stupid. But I did send a funny card about missing her. She responded, not as soon as she received the card, but soon after.
We never mentioned the argument. Truth be told, neither of us remember what it was about. But she did say they were on their way to New Orleans and if we could, we should join them. Which we did. Tina and Jordan bonded, (which I knew was important) and we ate a great many oysters. In addition to my missing T, I couldn’t imagine not having Jordan know this woman who so shaped who I was. But that’s another story. Let me just recommend that if you have a Tina in your life, do not waste another moment being apart. We have always been there for one another, and now we are again. Have a Blessed and beautiful New Year. We’re Just Sayin’… Iris