Friday, February 26, 2010

Tears of Joy and Sorrow

I know a lot of people are feeling down right now. The economy, recent deaths in the community. The stress of everyday life. Carpool.

Well, this morning I heard from my Aunt Lila. It's been a long time, partly because I'm so busy and partly because when Aunt Lila gets you on the phone, it's like the time-space continuum gets suspended and before you know it, you actually missed your birthday, which, when you began your conversation, was months away. I guess what I'm trying to say is Aunt Lila likes to talk. A lot.

But it's not just the talking, it's her voice. She's an 81-year old former New Yorker transplanted to Florida with a Brooklyn accent you could cut with a knife. She's my mother's twin sister, and they couldn't have been more different. Aunt Lila is outgoing, spirited, lively, at the forefront of things. Mother, well, she spent a lot of her early life in my aunt's shadow and she had her own spirit, but it wasn't quite as obvious. Plus, mom's accent kinda faded somewhat here in California, although with some words, it never goes away. And when her temper would flare, well, it was Brooklyn all over again.

I tried not to cry when I heard my aunt's voice, which got me thinking about mom. Then she brought up her sisters, both gone from this world, and I teared up. I thought for a moment what it must be like to be the only one left and it was a devastating feeling. I couldn't imagine life without my brother or sister because I've never known life without them. To add to the loneliness, Aunt Lila's only son and grandchildren live in Hawaii, thousands of miles away.

So this year I sent my aunt Shaloch Manos, a traditional gift of food for Purim*. She was so happy, she told me, that she cried. I cried because she was happy too. Sadness mingled with happiness. Tears of joy and sorrow. Nothing like it to show you that we are all in the hands of the One Above.

*Purim: one of two holidays not mandated by the Torah in which "our enemies tried to kill us, they failed, let's eat" is the motto. The other holiday is Chanukah.

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