daily kaddish: losing those who were already lost

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I’m finally back from the business trip to Paris, and I’m relieved to be making a daily Kaddish podcast the usual way, using great microphones, a Blackbird Onyx, Pro Tools 9 on a Mac, and playing a horn again!

Sorry about the primitiveness of the Paris recordings, and for my not being able to post them until today. I have another, longer business trip to Asia starting on Friday, and I have no idea how I’m going to come up with eight more ways of doing the daily kaddish without an instrument along, but I refuse to schlepp a horn along for a week, so I’ll have to come up with something. Your ideas are very welcome!

Tonight’s Kaddish contemplates the loss of those we’ve already lost—when people who were already lost to us are lost again, finally, to death. I’m thinking here of estranged friends—spouses we’ve divorced—kids we’ve disinherited—older folks who’d disappeared into dementia—all those we’d already lost, only to lose them again much later.

We may have said goodbye already, and we may have made our peace with those goodbyes or not, but when those people die, the goodbyes become final—irrevocable—and the sadness we thought was behind us returns.

A kaddish for those lost ones, whom we lose again—and for all those who suffer in these new losses of the already lost. May the lost ones rest in peace, and may those who lost them again also have peace.

 

About erin

Erin Vang, PMP, BMus, MMus, is Owner and Principal Pragmatist of the consultancy Global Pragmatica LLC®, offering custom JMP scripting, localization program management, and facilitative leadership services. She is also an orchestral horn player who freelances in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays assorted brass for the celebrated dance bands Midnight Smørgåsbord and contraPtion. More about Erin…
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4 Responses to daily kaddish: losing those who were already lost

  1. mira says:

    I don’t think we ever really lose anyone — and this is a new thought. I used to think that when they (or we) were gone, well, that was it. They (or we) were really really gone. But it doesn’t feel that way anymore. We carry them around with us. Nobody can forbid us to mourn or grieve or not to care. Nobody can take away our memories, our joys or our sorrows. We get to remember. I think it’s worth holding on to those we’ve ‘lost’ (whether we’ve lost them once or more than once) — hold on to all the good stuff, or the full range of experience, as best we can. Tell as many stories as we can — if only to remind ourselves of what we ought to keep, and to remind others that once we shared a part of our lives that was really really special.

    The recitation you used for this one was for the beit ha-atzuvim — בית העצובים — the house of sorrows.

    • erin says:

      House of sorrows indeed. I was thinking of some specific already lost ones who were newly lost again, and they have filled several households with new sadness. But I think you’re right, Mira: we do carry those we’ve lost around with us, in our memories, and in this way we keep them alive and don’t quite lose them. Isn’t that the whole point behind naming babies after the people we’ve lost, to ensure that their memories stay alive?

      I needed to order a new AKC collar tag for my dog Kjersten this morning. And yes, this is relevant—bear with me a moment.

      Kjersten chewed up her first plastic tag a while ago—the tag that says, “please call 800-xxx-xxx AKC CAR ID# xxxxxxxxxxx.” The idea is that if she gets loose, someone could call that toll-free phone number and read off the ID#. The AKC would then call me and arrange a happy reunion. But with that tag chewed to bits, Kjersten was no longer wearing any such helpful identification, so a good Samaritan would have had to call the pound or take the pup to a vet to have her microchip scanned before that series of phone calls could arrange the reunion—and notice that this scenario requires said Samaritan to think of the possibility of microchip scanning, etc., etc. It’s too many assumptions between my dog going lost and the reunion being arranged for me to be comfortable, so I went to akc.org and ordered a new tag.

      To order the new tag (sturdy stainless steel this time!), I needed to look up Kjersten’s AKC ID#, and my records were a little messed up, so I wasn’t sure the number I had was hers and not her late predecessor’ Candy’s number, so before you know it, I was digging around in my AKC registrations and updating Candy’s record.

      Which sucked. Checking the “Deceased” box next to “Velvet Marquesa Candace” broke my heart, and then clicking the “OK” button to commit that change when clearly her being deceased is anything but OK.

      And then I was double-checking Kjersti’s record, and my impending divorce required a change there, too: “Velvet Marquesa Kjersten Kjøttkaker” needed updates to her ownership and contact information. I removed a name and once again clicked an “OK” button to commit a change that is anything but.

      Which is when I noticed that “Velvet Marquesa Kjersten Kjøttkaker” also needed her vet’s contact information linked, so I took care of that, too, and this time actually felt OK about clicking “OK.”

      And then I thought about these ridiculous registered names my dogs have: “Velvet Marquesa Something or Other.” This name dates back to my very first dog, a black lab named Samantha who was my best friend from just before kindergarten until my sophomore year in college. Sam was registered under the name “Velvet Marquesa” because my folks had just read a book about Teddy Roosevelt in which some marquesa figured somehow, and Sam was velvety soft, and you need to come up with something pretty whacky to get a unique name in the AKC registration database, and—well, let’s face it, it’s all pretty ridiculous, but there it is. The Vang family dogs are velvet marquesas.

      Sam was the original, unmarked case: “Velvet Marquesa.” Her chocolate lab successor, Alex, was Velvet Marquesa Alex. Dad seems to think that’s spelled “Alix,” but I named her and I’m pretty sure that gives me the right to correct the record: I named her Alex, as in Velvet Marquesa Alexandra. Anyway, Alex was succeeded by a black lab, Candy, who naturally had to be Velvet Marquesa Candace.

      Candy retired to California in 2005, and my folks got started on another black lab, Flicka. You guessed it: Velvet Marquesa Flicka.

      In late 2009, Candy had to come out of retirement to train up her successor, another chocolate lab that we named Kjersten Kjøttkaker (Norwegian for “Kristen Meatballs”). Kjersten was the first of the Vang family dogs to start her career in my household, so I was dubious when Dad suggested that I should register as the latest Velvet Marquesa, but I stuck with tradition: Velvet Marquesa Kjersten Kjøttkaker is the official name of the brown furbag of love who’s snoring a few feet away from me as I type this.

      And I wondered: did my brother follow suit, too? Were Jill (black lab), Nikki (black lab), Kate (yellow lab), and now Chloe (yellow lab) registered as Velvet Marquesas?

      Finally I come to my point.

      Because Kjersten’s registered name is Velvet Marquesa, my tedious little task today of ordering her a new collar tag made me think of the whole lineage of Vang-family labrador retrievers who have enriched our lives over the years. Five blacks: Sam, Jill, Nikki, Candy, and Flicka. Two chocolates: Alex and Kjersten. Two yellows: Kate and Chloe. The tradition of keeping our loved ones alive in our memories by naming the next generations for them works.

      And you’re right, Mira: we’ve never lost Sam, Jill, Nikki, Alex, Candy, and Kate, and we won’t lose Flicka, Chloe, and Kjersten. We’ll carry them with us.

      • mira says:

        Erin, you mentioned your impending divorce above, but only in passing, before making a different important point about how we hold on to our lineage through naming. What I had written above came from thinking about my own divorce long ago — thinking that I was severing ties with someone I no longer loved. I was wrong on both counts: I was not severing ties. Those bonds remain forever, even if they are shifted somewhat. And this was someone whom I could never stop loving, albeit it was loving in a new way. We didn’t lose each other, we gained a new kind of relationship together that works for us much better. Love, obligations, and contact were redefined through divorce — they were not severed. And it turned out that in this way, our relationship was revitalized — it was not lost. And that is what I wish for you over the coming years. Loss is too permanent a concept. Our kaddish, I’m beginning to think, is not about ‘getting over’ loss, but perhaps about spending a year redefining our relationships.

        • erin says:

          I know you’re right about that, and I hope the same will hold for me. I do count quite a few exes among my friends, and most of them feel like a different sort of family. Of course in some cases the pain is too great for one person or the other, and acrimony is all that remains. It took me a long time to come to a place of wanting happiness even for the woman I wrote about in my domestic violence piece, but someday it comes, I hope, for all of us.

          I certainly want all kinds of happiness and peace to find V. She’s a good, kind, smart woman, and knowing the hurt I’m causing her now is dreadful. I’m grateful to our community for enveloping her in an outpouring of love and support that I’m no longer eligible to provide.

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