Monday, August 4, 2014

Tisha B'Av is Hard

Well, it's supposed to be. But for me, it's especially hard because from the very first Tisha B'Av I spent in Israel, I spent it with Pamela. She and I, until she had children, would go together to Darche Noam. Then she got sick, and I spent Tisha B'Av that year taking care of her children while she was in the hospital. I went to hear Eicha at the Tayelet in Jerusalem, her stomping ground.

The next year, I was too engrossed in my mourning to do anything other than fast for Tisha B'Av.

This year, I am once again taking care of my sister's children when Tisha B'Av occurs. I have no sense of the Jewish history of this day this year. I have no feeling more than usual for the suffering of our ancestors this year. As a people, we have been living Tisha B'Av for 27 days. We are in mourning. We are living in fear. We are on edge. We fear for ourselves as Jews, not just as individuals. We have been trying to be strong, to protect our children, to protect ourselves, to put on a brave face for our soldiers - our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles.

Today, we get to put that brave face away and show our true face. We get to cry. We can tell ourselves that it's for the day, for the kinnot that we read, for the history. We can let others think that it's the emotion of the prayers. We can release everything we've been holding in, without embarrassment or shame.

I have been been living Tisha B'Av for two years. Every morning when my sister's children wake up and run to give me hugs, it is with mixed emotions that I squeeze them back. I love that they love me. I love that they want to hug me. I adore that they want to greet me every morning. But it shouldn't be me that they are running to. I should be listening to their mother tell me how much she loves the morning hugs she gets.

My sister didn't die because she was Jewish, despite the statistic that breast cancer affects the Jewish population in much higher numbers, but nonetheless, my Tisha B'Av has been forever affected and forever changed. I don't need kinnot to make me "feel" this day. I have enough feeling to last me a lifetime. But this year, so many families are joining me in this new reality.

I'd really rather this club not grow any more.

May those who are fasting have a meaningful fast, and may next year see Tisha B'Av be a day of rejoicing.