Friday, June 21, 2019

A candle nobody wants

In the flickering light
Laval, QC
June 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
My eyes snap open at 3:30 a.m., my messed-up brain spinning too quickly to allow for sleep. Or even rest.

The memorial candle that's supposed to burn for the full 7 days of shivah - the traditional week of mourning that follows a Jewish death - flickers its cruel red light onto the living room walls, never failing to remind us why we're here, or what we've lost. As if we ever needed a reminder at all.

At 3:34, I reach for my smartphone and decide a spontaneous middle-of-the-night photo shoot is in order. I squeeze my eyes shut and imagine my father-in-law smiling at me, quietly encouraging yet another round of Carmi ridiculousness.

It hurts that I'll now have to use my imagination to see him, because he would have laughed at the irony of me shooting a candle meant for him. But no one said this life thing - or the way it ends - would ever be easy.

I think of what happens after the candle burns out a few days from now. What this room, which for so many years formed the backdrop of so many unforgettable moments with him, will be like when it is no longer being painted by the dancing, red-tinged light. I worry we'll lose the memories when the light eventually flickers out for good.

And then it hits me: This is just a room. This is just a candle. The walls, the light, like my current bout of sleeplessness, are ephemeral, mere placeholders for whatever memories they once spawned. Even after this place goes dark, after we carry out the last box and sell the place to some as yet unknown stranger, how brightly those memories burn in all of us will remain entirely within our control.

I think of our kids, now safely back home, and smile as I realize that light already burns brightly within them. Both he and my late mother-in-law, who embraced grandparenthood in ways you wish every kid could experience, lit quite the fire within all of us.

None of that disappears when a mere candle gets snuffed out. Memories of those who mattered are far more powerful than that.

Now, if only sleep would come.

#laval #montreal #quebec #canada #judaism #photooftheday #instagood #nofilter #nofilterneeded #google #pixel2 #teampixel #photography #lifeinthemargins #family #everything

No comments: