Made me feel good

Spring and the Mesa View Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Gabe, now 15. Earth Day. Kate Strickland, now 40. Her old man, Paul. Now 76. Tom and Amber. My son and his wife. Luke and Leo. LBMs. Little brown mushrooms. The Grateful Dead shabbat. Kate’s yahrzeit. Her candle still burning. Ginnie and Ellen. Ripple in Still Water. Another excellent workout. Radiation in the rearview. Snow and a cold night. Good sleeping.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Kate, my once and future wife

One brief, shining moment: Tears, the outer sign of inward longing, surfaced when it came time for the kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, Ripple in Still Water played during the Grateful Dead shabbat had ended and Rabbi Jamie read the list of deaths and then the list of yahrzeits, holding my breath until he read the very last name, Kate Olson. Oh.


Before I left for CBE yesterday evening, I lit a 24 hour memorial candle for Kate. It burns still. This is her yahrzeit. Her second.

Ginnie sat next to me last night. She’s a nurse I met online during a Kabbalah Experience class on astrology. Ginnie and her partner took the class together. She comes to the CBE services because she has an MFA in performance art, including opera. As a singer she loves the services. Was glad to have her next to me.

The Rabbi and music director of B’nai Havurah, the only Denver reconstructionist congregation, joined Rabbi Jamie and the CBE band which includes harmonica, bass, and drums. Sometimes piano, but not last night.

The Grateful Dead shabbat is a popular musical service and happened to fall on Kate’s yahrzeit. Appropriate since Jon was a Deadhead, a camp follower who had a large cache of concert tapes, a treasure Ruth has kept.

When Ripple in Still Water played, the lyrics came on the screen. My tears began when I read these:

There is a road, no simple highwayBetween the dawn and the dark of nightAnd if you go, no one may followThat path is for your steps alone

She left two years ago and I could not follow for that path was for her steps alone.

The kaddish prayer and the recognition of recent deaths and yahrzeits make sure that mourners do not go through their grief alone. Shiva takes the community into the home of the mourner, traditionally for seven nights. These are deeply compassionate features of Judaism and have helped me a lot during my own mourning and grief. Jews are not awkward when talking about death. They show up, initiate help. Follow through.

The drive home last night, one Kate and I made together many, many times, saddened me. I cried again, missing her in the seat next to me, commenting on the service, life, politics.

Oddly, and I imagine this is the point of yahrzeits, the tears and the sadness made me feel good. I’m still connected to her in a deep and everlasting way. These feelings honor our love.