They are always with us. They always have been. They always will be.
As we eat, breathe, and mourn. As we grow, and when we make mistakes. As we love and as we struggle. They are with us.
By our side, sitting on our shoulders, they comfort us when we call out to them, and even when we don’t. They carefully place breadcrumbs for us to follow when we are lost or searching.
The dead, those alive, and those in liminal space.
Our parents, ex-lovers, relatives, unborn grand and great grandchildren, future lovers, childhood friends, and even those we had hoped would have been our friends but weren’t. Aborted babies and babies yet to be born.
We dance with the memories of those we have yet to meet, woven into our moving hips.
We wail with the ancestors we never knew. Some fled their homeland of Poland leaving families in lost graves, behind gorgeous locked Jewish cemetery gates. Never to return.
We celebrate with the grandson of a distant cousin. He is becoming a bar mitzvah in Argentina, during a pandemic. On Zoom. We have known these prayers and melodies for many lifetimes. They fill our eyes with life and touch places that have no words.
We love a great niece we have never smelled. She cracks a smile and babbles through cyberspace. Making sounds of sheep.
The heart hears. The soul sees her neshama.
They all come to our Shabbes table. Every one of them. It is delicious.
There is homemade challah. Even dessert. Sometimes it is an apple cake. Or chocolate.
We hear the unexpected cries of the shofar in the neighborhood. Is it close? Or from another time and place?
We send the sacred blasts back to the unknown shofar blower. We have always known each other. We don’t need to know their names.
They arrive for Shabbes and find a place at the table. They bring wine.
We breathe for the man in the bed struggling to find his breath. We hold up the nurse who is caring for him and so many others with COVID-19. She is tired. We comfort her.
We swim in the river with the children, and we bury the ones who died during the Flood. The First Flood and the ones that continue.
Grief permeates. And guides our dreams.
Joy and despair from every time and space make their home within us. They find a place at our Shabbes table.
They are always with us.
Even the sounds of the frogs and the quail can be heard. L’chaim