Friday, March 21, 2008

Cycles


I didn't get what you would call a formal Jewish education. In fact very little beyond screw the antisemites before I got to the US, and only elective stuff since then. Frankly, it shows. I filled in many holes, but many remain. Customs, for example, or some synagogue practices. One other glaring one is the calendar. I just never cared too much for it. I alway just checked online for when the holidays fall, and moved on.

I left the synagogue a little before the end of Purim reading to make sure that the chicken noodle soup was warm by the time JD and one overtired Monkey made it home. A magnificent full moon hung in the sky. Bright, shining. I was surprised but glad to see it. If you, unlike me, have half a clue about the Jewish calendar, you must be slapping your knee right about now. A full moon on Purim, imagine that!

I pondered the moon as I drove. I was wondering whether I would get a chance to sneak outside to try to get a few shots of it. That is when it occurred to me that I had recently gone outside trying to take a picture of a full moon. On A's yahrtzeit. The wheels, they started turning. His yahrtzeit, I remembered, falls on the 13th day of a month the name of which I would recognize but can't replicate (see-- I could've used some education). Purim, as we were just reminded a few many times whence I was coming from, happens on the 14th and 15th of Adar. You see, Jewish calendar is lunar, so how surprising is it, really, that the full moon would fall somewhere on the 13th or 14th of any given month? Don't answer-- I feel plenty slow already. One more thought found me almost turning onto our little street. If we get full moon for A's yahrtzeit then so do Natan's parents, since exactly four weeks separate the two dates. This little detail somehow strung another thread of recognition, of I stood where you stood. Where many stood. Too many.

After I got home and started up heating the soup, I googled the Jewish calendar thing, and found this helpful page. Yes-- full moon in the middle of the lunar month. Who would've think it?

How is it possible, though, that I never noticed the full moon on Purim before? And why don't I remember it from that drive I took to the hospital, the day A died? Last year I was not in the mood for Purim. Monkey, though, lives for Purim. When she can wear her Queen Esther costume. My sister took her last year, while I stayed cooped up in the house. But all the years before-- how is it possible that I paid no attention to the man moon in the sky?

When Monkey was turning three, she invited her playground posse to her birthday. One little boy showed up with a gift of a biggish plastic box with a dressup ansamble for an unspecified princess, in unspecified princess pink with a few nice purple accents. The kid's mom must've wanted a girl very much is all I could figure about that gift. I was, to put it mildly, displeased. Pink? Princess pink for my daughter? For a kid who already has a grandmother who, shall we say, overemphasizes the fake sugary aspects of princess life? Yeah. And that is to say nothing of the horrid plastic shoes that came in the box, the ones that are plain dangerous on the stairs or any uncarpeted surface. My friend Sam fixed the situation somewhat by telling Monkey that it was in fact Queen Esther costume that she would be able to wear to the synagogue for Purim, only weeks away. And this is how the love affair with Purim was born.

Of course Monkey also wears it at home to play dress up, but since it's a designated Purim costume, not as much as I'd feared. And since it was recast as a costume of a strong female character, I am cool with it anyway. She has worn that costume to four Purims. She has had this thing for half of her life. Three years ago, I had to take the skirt in severely. A little less two years ago, and only a bit last year. But this year she is tall, and the top of the costume is still the same exact length. Oh, and the skirt was ripped in the back, near the seam. I fixed that. I also sewed her pink turtleneck to the skirt to ensure structural integrity and full coverage. The top went on over the turtleneck. She looked very cute. Very. It is, though, self-evident that next year we shall need a new costume. I am cool with that.

What I want to know, still, is how is it possible that over all these years that I have taken Monkey in her repurposed Esther costume to celebrate Purim, or the many years before, how is it possible that I never made that moon connection before? I must've seen it, just not paid attention. Maybe I even smiled at it, year after year-- I do love a good full moon. It is possible that my brain needed a second data point, something to make the click sound. The strangest role for A's yahrtzeit I believe I have ever contemplated, that.

It's a weird feeling-- I feel like I have discovered something profound. I know, though, that I simply noticed something that I should've known all along.

 
P.S. The pictures were taken with our new Nikon D40 with a long-distance lens and vibration reduction. How did we ever live without this thing?

14 comments:

Aurelia said...

In the city, with all the urban bright lights I find I have to work to notice the moon and stars.

And really, when you are dealing with a small baby/toddler or much harder, grief, you simply don't have the energy to look this stuff.

But now you have. And that is a good thing.

Magpie said...

the photos are divine.

and, one learns something new every day - like that the moon falls in the middle of a jewish calendar month, and...

i think it's how we get through life - aha!

niobe said...

Fantastic shots. I love your new camera.

c. said...

Stunning photos.

Those plastic princess shoes? The ones unsafe for stairs or any uncarpeted surface? They are pretty unsafe for carpeted surfaces, too. Just a heads up.

kalakly said...

I love the pix! I think I would have found it hard to notice a freight train headed straight for me, much less a full moon lingering in a dark night sky, in those first days of grief.

Plastic shoes are just never a good idea....

Ahuva Batya said...

I loved reading this; it was so thoughtful, and so like something I would do. I often feel grateful that I'm a little slow on the updake because all throughout life, I'm continually amazed by connections or details that have always been there, but that I've just noticed. How boring would like be if I noticed it all right away? I feel that your discovery was meant to be now.
Love the camera and pictures.

My Reality said...

Great pictures!

Snickollet said...

Those photos are amazing.

I'm such an urbanite that I forget to look up for the moon and stars. The twins are the ones who notice these things now.

Love the recasting of the princess outfit. Brilliant.

Bon said...

i think i get this. my own recasting of the calendar in the first year or two of grief shed light on things far beyond Finn's death, and they became fraught with meaning for me because of the connection, nonetheless.

and somewhere along the line a few of them increased my sense of wonder, which amazed me. this post read that way for me, actually...thanks for it.

The Town Criers said...

Maybe the moon is sort of like a good friend that you see so often that you begin to ignore the enormity of it until a moment snaps it back into perspective.

The ChickieNob has been Esther two years running and we haven't quite gotten the costume off her body yet. We are going on the 5th day if this repeats tomorrow...

Kim said...

Great photos! I love the costume thing. My kids were their Halloween costumes year round - to the store, to the play ground etc. It is great when kids can just be kids!

meg said...

I love these shots. You will love that camera, I have heard great things about it.

Karen said...

it is also a very real possibility that the full moon was hidden behind dark clouds.
Purim of course should be celebrated with a full moon - it is about a beautiful woman and much, much more.

LAS said...

Those pictures are beautiful! I would love to get a nice camera, but I would be afraid I wouldn't use it enough.