When I don't make it to kaddish, I feel bad. I don't feel bad because I forget that he was alive. I forget that he is dead.

Why should this make me feel guilty? But it does.

Everyone tells me that saying kaddish (or trying to) is not the same as mourning. Don't get confused, they say. Going to prayer services three times a day (or as many as one does) is not the same as grief.

But there were days I couldn't go last week* because The Bearded Economist was on a business trip. And it turned out that I can sometimes forget that I am a mourner. Or, more explicitly, an orphan, or at least half of one. And then when I am reminded, it feels suddent, and it twists.

Better to do it every day. Maybe I'll learn.

I don't get to three services a day. I did for a while, and I planned to do so for the first month after his death, because that's a particularly important period in the Jewish mourning ritual. I was foiled by some unwelcoming experiences, but I also think that maybe it had to stop? Because it was leaving The Bearded Economist to get the children ready in the morning as well as to bed at night.

It's like the prayer services were engineered to give men an out on the hardest parenting times of day. But also, I missed my kids.

Anyway, now I try to go once a day, three times a day on the weekend, when I can pray with my chosen community. I think that's what I'll probably do for this time, this eleven months of kaddish.

When I was going to morning services, I was tired, so tired. Waking up to get to 6:20 am services left me very, very low on sleep. I probably would have stopped going in the morning, anyway. This way, I can blame the difficulties on the community that I tried, however briefly and superficially, to join. Maybe they did me a favor, is what I'm trying to say. Thanks for the deep and painful rejection.

Ah, it is too hard. I miss my father very much. You know, we disagreed a lot, politically and religiously and everythingly. And in the later years, he could be very difficult, precisely because he was sick, although still going to work and still enjoying life and still travelling. But he was not very good at being sick. And I think he was angrier than he liked to admit, and more withdrawn.

And he made me crazy. Frustrated, crazy. We couldn't talk much.

But then he got sicker, and that crystallized things. I love him a lot, it turns out. I told him that a lot; and I hope he really heard it. I think I maybe joked around too much when I said it, because that's what we do. I think he understood. I think so.

You know, if you had asked me what my father thought of me lately, I would have said that he loved me, but that  it was mutual - that I kind of made him crazy. I was a  pain in his tuches*, you know? We had a hard time talking on the phone, or in person, about anything much besides his grandchildren. Even then, I think, the conversations would degenerate. Usually I would lash out.

My mom was looking, with my brother, for her marriage license. It's the first toehold in the paperwork mountain that his death has left, that she has to climb to get to her new life, whatever that may look like, and she was having trouble finding it. So my mother and my brother emptied out the ancient creaking filing cabinet in the corner of my parents' bedroom. And they found the marriage license, but they also found letters that my father had written to each of us. He underwent a triple cardiac bypass surgery 14 years ago, and what I didn't realize is how much he thought he was going to die. So he wrote us all letters, letters to tell us how much he loved us and why.

Mine is a beautiful letter, although I'm not sure he finished it. He tells me how much he loves me, and it's left without coda or signature. But then we got the following 14 years, so maybe that was his coda and his signature. I'm lucky to have those, I tell myself, but I don't feel lucky. I just feel sad.

It's a letter where he specifically tells me how much he loves me - me qua me - not just because I'm his oldest daughter and I made him a parent, or because I was a good student, or because of...well, anything. Just love because I'm me.

I read the letter and I can't stop crying. I can't read it again, and it's too precious to put anywhere. What do you do with things like this? I want to frame it and look at it every day; I want to put it in a steel safe and bury it. I want to burn it and send it to heaven, all at the same time.

What it turns out I've been doing is that I've been getting through by pretending he didn't love me much, at the end anyway, and that he didn't die. But neither of those things are true. He loved me - he loved us - so very much. He didn't want to go, and he tried so very hard to stay. But he is gone.

So I have the letter. I have the kaddish. I suppose I'll learn.

But right now it's just too hard.

*My brothers and sisters had it covered. We have a google calendar, of course. 
**Also tush, or tushie, or butt.