Eighty six moons ago I held A for the first and last time. I know because today is his yahrzeit, the anniversary on the Jewish calendar. Jewish months are lunar, starting when the new moon shows up, ending when the old moon is no more. A was born in the middle of the month, on the full moon. Almost surreally-ginormous yellow nearly-full moon accompanied me on my ride to the hospital. So surreal was it that for a while after I thought I made it up.
It's been seven Jewish years, almost seven calendar years. It's a cliche, but it seems to've been both an interminably long and an absurdly short time. The moon's been full eighty six more times since I rested my boy's head on that one spot above my heart, since I willed my body to remember the feeling of his head there. So many things are hazy now, but if I bid it, that one spot, it still responds.
Because 12 lunar months come out to less than the number of days that it takes the Earth to go around the Sun, but 13 lunar months come out to more, Jewish years are sometimes 12 months and sometimes 13. Specifically, seven out of 19 Jewish years have 13 months, and, as I learned this morning when I looked it up, there's a nifty way to know which years those will be by using the layout of a piano's octave. Of the last seven years two were these 13 months leap years. The year we're in, the one that started with the High Holidays in September, is also a leap year, but its extra month hasn't happened yet-- it's up next, after this current moon goes to naught. I also learned this morning that the Hebrew term for the leap year literally translates into "a pregnant year." Nice. Subtle.
In Israel today they've buried Ariel Sharon, a former general and a former prime minister. As Vice President Biden eulogized him today, a complex man from a complex neighborhood. He died on Saturday after eight years in a coma. He had a stroke in 2006 and was in a coma ever since. Randomly, I thought of him about a week ago, wondering idly about whether he was still alive, whether anything in his condition had changed. But I didn't remember when I was thinking of him that his stroke happened before A died. I hadn't remembered just how long he'd been suspended in that ethereal space of technically alive. Time is a strange thing.
Since A's been gone the moon's done its monthly dance eighty six times, and the year's been pregnant twice, and so have I. And the incredible, wonderful, challenging, funny, loving children that survived those pregnancies and their amazing, lovely, hilarious and somewhat-crazy-making big sister make me feel overwhelmingly lucky every day. Another cliche, but my heart and my chest do really routinely feel like they are about to burst with the love and tenderness I feel for them. And alongside all that, most days in a quiet undertone, but some days like today in a major theme, their joyful presence underscores A's absence, everything he didn't get to do. They grow, they change, they amaze. He doesn't. But damn, I miss my son. That is all.