Sunday, March 29, 2015

#BlogExodus: Bitter

I just finished reading Jennifer Weiner’s article in today's paper about seders past and present, and how she’s the one in her family now in charge of the annual event.

In 2010, at 77, my mom was still the one in charge of our seders.  She’d been having some health issues so I went out to New Jersey the day before, Sunday, March 28, to help finish the preparations.  When I arrived, the table was already set, the soup and the matzah balls were made, and the brisket was in the crockpot.  I assembled some relish trays, chopped apples for charoset, and followed a recipe she’d clipped from the newspaper for a tri-colored gefilte fish loaf.  Before long, that, too, was covered with Saran and squished in the overflowing fridge, in the kitchen that smelled – as it did every year at this season – like Pesach.

The next day, March 29, five years ago today, my mom awoke in such excruciating pain that my parents and I hustled off to the hospital, where she was admitted, according to her oncologist, “to get the pain under control.”

That seder never happened, my mom never came home, and although our immediate family still gathers together for dinner on the first night of Passover, we haven't had a seder since.

As Ms. Weiner writes, “Every person I know remembers a specific moment, a signpost marking the day, or the year, that childhood was left behind.”  For me, that day is March 29, 2010,  and I’ve tasted the maror and the salt water every day since.

Inspired by Ima on (and off) the Bima, this post is one in a series marking the days of the Jewish month of Nisan leading up to Passover, which begins at sundown on Friday, April 3, corresponding to 15 Nisan. If you want to play along, check out this year's #BlogExodus and #ExodusGram prompts.  This series of posts also is priming my heart, mind, and spirit to participate in a six-day summer writing seminar, Beyond Walls:  Spiritual Writing at Kenyon.