essays kaddish in two-part harmony

precious daughters: a kaddish for Amanda Simmons

Amanda and Abigail Joy

I was writing about books. Letting go of books. A preemptive kaddish for books turns out I couldn’t part with. The occasion was my daughter’s return from China. And driving up, by way of the Coast, from L.A. where her flight landed to S.F. for a short visit before heading East. I already wrote this part. About getting this great rug for her room.

Well, the rug arrived last night, finally, after the long haul from Texas. And a friend came this morning to help pull just about everything out of R’s room and lay down the pad and rug, and then put everything back. We spent much of the day at it. At one point my friend moved one of the tall bookcases right smack into the ceiling light, and bam — broken glass all over the new (old) extremely beautiful Karastan. Shit. What a start.

What did it mean?

And I guess the question to pose is do I think I live in a universe in which everything means something? Or a universe in which random things just happen?  I started thinking about that. I’ve always subscribed to the meaningless universe, but have always acted as if there is meaning.

Humans are meaning-junkies after all. We want to understand stuff.

So. While I don’t believe that this act of breaking glass means anything at all, I must say it was the third of four glass shatterings to occur in a week. The fourth one happened about an hour ago, when Vladdie managed to knock over Rh’s Pelegrini bottle that was sitting on the counter. Kitties just do stuff like that sometimes.  Even one of Erin’s kitties knocked over a glass bottle filled with kitty-meds tonight—so what the hell is going on?

See? Looking for meaning again.

The phone rang.

It was D in Texas, who’d sold me the Karastan on eBay. She wanted to know if it had arrived. And I should have called her earlier, but I just wanted to get it all set up before calling.

D had read yesterday’s blog about preparing my precious daughter’s room for her rug. It had made her cry—

D had lost her daughter in the most horrible way possible.

Broken glass. Things that are precious and fragile. And in one moment, beautiful as they are—they are gone.

We talked daughters. We talked saving everything in order to hold on to our memories. I know that every time I look at D’s grandmother’s rug in my daughter’s room, I will think of D and her daughter. And every time, I know that a kaddish will form upon my lips whether bidden or unbidden. How could it not?

D has one especially precious gift left by her daughter, and that is her granddaughter.

I am praying here for a long and healthy life for little Abigail Joy, a life filled with books (yes, books!) and art, and education, music, puppies, kitties—whatever warms her heart and brings her joy. I wish for her a way to find peace when she needs it most, and compassion for the pain of others.

And when she looks for meaning—I pray that it be meaning that will sustain her and make her stronger.

For D—I will think of you always. How could I not? I feel honored that you shared your loss with me, but more than that—your love for your daughter that cannot be diminished. I will keep safe your grandmother’s rug—which is now imbued with so much meaning, it breaks my heart. But also fills me with joy that you have Abigail by your side.


By mira

Mira Z. Amiras is Professor of Comparative Religious Studies and founder of the Middle East Studies Program at San Jose State University. She is past-president of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, and has served on the Executive Council of the American Anthropological Association. She is co-founder, with Ovid Jacob, of Beit Malkhut, a study group in Jewish sacred text. She's most attached to the creatures of her body and her household — first and foremost, her kids, of course: Michael and Rayna — and then the other folks large and small of various species, including Roshi and Vlad, a whole lot of hummingbirds, the old parrot who lives next door, and a beautiful garden that does what it will.

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