In fact, while it was all very hard to say goodbye and then to help bury my father-in-love, it was also the healthiest experience around death I'd ever had. Tonight, two weeks from the day he died, Roger's body is resting quietly in a tiny Jewish section of the local village cemetery. It's quiet and peaceful there and if you stop and listen, you can hear the waves crash on the rocks less than a mile away.
My wife will stay with her mother for a few more days before returning home herself.
Meanwhile, I am here and beginning to hit the reset button.
Which means not only regrouping to reestablish communication with folks about potential travels for the coming year, but also to figure out how I will reschedule and reboot the release of my physical CD recording of The Watchman's Chair, which had to be canceled so we could get to Mendocino in time to see Roger.
I will speak soon with the owners of Leikam Brewing, to see if we can reschedule the event soon enough for it to make sense (ideally before mid-February).
I'm also participating in more local events at open mics and pubs, hoping it will eventually lead to me booking a few shows here in town during the winter. I've always had a dream of playing my Jewish music in pubs and coffeehouses, and right now seems like a good time to test the waters and see if I can make the dream come true.
I am glad to be home. My cat is also glad; friends and family had been taking turns coming over to feed and medicate her, and to sit with her awhile in the evenings so she'd be a little less lonely. But now that one of us is home, all she wants is to sit on my lap and purr. I don't mind, especially now that the temps are falling here in Portland and we might see a dusting of snow in the West Hills sometime next week. She's warm on my lap and purrs a lot, signaling her enjoyment of our together time.
It's a little weird having celebrated a very muted, low-key Chanukah down south and skipping celebrations here in Portland with the rest of my family. But it all seems to be exactly right. Roger's passing was as good a death as anyone could have hoped for; pain-free and surrounded by family and all the love in the world. And the way we all handled it feels incredibly honest and loving and healthy. My wife told me she hopes that she will die similarly one day.
This week I began the seven-year cycle of Daf Yomi, the daily study of Talmud, one little bit at a time. I'm doing much more of a "Cliff's Notes" approach, since it works better with my ferocious shpilkes (today it would be called ADHD). Today we read in Berakhot 5 that if nothing else sways us from acting on our bad inclination, reminding ourselves that we'll all die someday is a good last resort. Frankly, I don't like this approach. Death is not a punishment, but a part of life and a reason for us to live well and love fully. I am grateful for the reminders of THAT lesson the past two weeks have afforded me.
Please stay tuned at my Facebook Music page and the first page of this web site for updates on my rescheduled CD release party in Portland. It will be live-streamed for out-of-town friends and archived on my FB music page.
Wishing you a good week and offering gratitude for your support.