Somewhere in another world—or maybe it was another lifetime, on nights like this one, my family would gather for the holiday. This dinner or, “Seder,” as it was called was pretty long. We called this day Pesach in Hebrew. Others know this holiday as Passover.
It is truly amazing how years seem to fit between times like now and then. As I write this to you, I am sitting in a room, far away from the dining rooms of my youth. I am far away from the traditions of my childhood and distant from the ones that made this holiday what it was.
Sadly and throughout time, my family has spread out. We all have our lives now. We have our own kids and our own problems. I sometimes wonder if the only reason we all gathered on this day is because our parents made us sit in the same room. We sat together. We ate together. And of course, we prayed together.
I miss those days.
Here I am now. I am decades away from where it all began and fully grown. I own my own home. I have bills to pay like the rest of the world. I have struggles within my household. I have table to dinner at and furniture to sit on. I have a life that I worked for and created. Good or bad—I have what I have. And good or bad, no one can take this from me..
I was thinking about this day and what it means to me. More than the traditions of my family and aside from the story about the Ten Commandments, the years of slavery, Moses, and the freedom of my heritage; today was the day I would see people I rarely had the chance to see.
I wish I could go back now and see one of the Passover dinners we shared. I wish I could see it, exactly as it was. I wish I could smell the smell of my Uncle Alan’s jacket when he first came in the door offered me a hug. I wish I could see my Aunt Peggy’s smile as it was when I was a little boy.
Everyone was welcome at our table. And I do mean everyone. I can tell you this; no one has ever been hugged until they have been hugged by my cousin Robbie.
I miss him.
Yes, these dinners were sometimes long. The prayer readings were also a bit lengthy. But after the prayers came the food. And no one –I mean absolutely no one in the world cooked with as much love as my Aunt Sondra.
Aunt Sondra was the glue. She is what kept us all together. I miss her. I miss her tradition of going around the table, one by one, so each person could tell what they were thankful for.
I miss my Aunt Sondra. I miss the glue she was that kept us all together. I miss her love and guidance. Moreover, I miss her support. At my toughest times, Aunt Sondra was always there to tell me, “We will get through this!”
I loved when she said, “We.”
Understanding the term, “We,” as plural, the term “We,” is what family means. It means you’ll never be alone. I guess I feel lonesome sometimes.
I guess I just wish I could hear from Aunt Sondra once in a while. There were a few mistakes I would like to apologize for. Then, of course, there is the “goodbye,” I never had the chance to say.
I am thinking of a specific Passover. This is when we were all together. The Old Man was still alive and my Mother was still young. Brothers and sisters were in attendance. Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and friends, extended family and everyone that mattered were there at the table.
Our family seemed so big back then. It is not big anymore. There are too many empty seats. There are too many missing at the table—and that’s a painful thing to recognize.
I am not sure that I identify myself with any organized religion. I cannot say anything about religion at all; only, that I have faith and I still believe. Whether it is foolish to believe or a waste of time; I still believe and my belief suite me fine.
If I close my eyes and think about this, I can hear the sounds in my Aunt Sondra’s kitchen. I can hear the conversations that went on at the dinner table. I can imagine Carl and Sandy. I miss them most on holidays like this one.
I can picture the way we were. And it’s enough to fill my heart with a tearful sentiment. It’s enough to make me weep and smile at the same time.
Love and family are strange things.
Love in life is not always constant.
Neither is family.
My first poem, or real poem, I should say was written about love.
“If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts
And if I look . . .
I can see you in my dreams
and on movie screens behind the walls of my eyelids
But . . .
My only hope is that I can see you soon
And hold you in my arms
Forever . . . ”
The meaning of that poem has changed over the years. I suppose I have changed as well. I’m learning more about what love means. I’m learning more about the term, “We,” and how the term, “We,” means we will never be alone.
I guess what I’m trying to say is I’ve been thinking about the tables I used to sit at on nights like this one. I’ve been thinking about the empty spaces and missing place settings as the years rolled on.
I miss you all. And though certain fallouts and arguments have split us apart—and though time has created too much of a divide and separations cannot be mended . . .
I will love you all, always and forever
That means Happy Passover to you . . .