In secular time, I woke up six years ago yesterday at home, in our apartment, excited that we had stayed in Michigan for winter break. I had just started writing my dissertation and it felt like bonus time. I felt so on top of things– what grad student gets back to serious work on December 26th? By that afternoon I was in the hospital.
In Jewish time, yesterday was the 13 Tevet, the day Natan was born and died. For some reason the intersection of these days kept me awake two nights ago.
Everything stopped for me between my admission to the hospital and Natan`s death.A.wasted week, really. A week delaying the inevitable, and building false hope.
I have never regained the confidence and contentment I had that morning before. It’s not because Natan didn’t make it. I honestly have accepted the inevitability of that. I have no control over life and death. All things considered, I am incredibly fortunate. I have two sons born at full term,the oldest born less than a year later. That was against the odds.
I don’t struggle much with grief anymore.I accept it. Instead, six years later, I struggle with another loss: I never regained my career momentum or the energy for balancing work with my personal life. I remembered this commitment to Judaism that didn’t fit the professional opportunities we had. Suddenly academia just didn’t work for me. I am still grieving
that, trying to figure out what’s next and how to stop feeling like I have failed. I have my children and that should be enough. But really these past six years in every other way feel like dead, wasted time. I worry I am no closer to a fulfilling career now than I was 6 years ago. Or maybe I am even farther now than ever.
The other night the intersection of Natan`s yahrtzeit and the anniversary of when I entered the hospital felt like a kind of
gap closing: the gap between false hope and my new life. I accepted the worst part of that long ago. Now on to the next phase.