essays kaddish in two-part harmony podcasts

daily kaddish: getting back to the kaddish

It can’t be right to say I’m enjoying getting back to mourning, but that’s almost what I’m saying here.


Over the past few months, I’ve felt a bit disconnected from this project. Mira and I have gone on writing occasional essays and recording daily Kaddishim—or, rather, Mira has been writing, and we’ve been recording, and that’s part of the problem. I haven’t been writing, except here in these blurbs introducing the daily podcast recording. So, that’s something that needs to change.

The other part of the problem is that, while I’ve been making recordings, I haven’t been engaged with the music. The recordings have been an obligation and an inconvenience lately, frankly—and that has bothered me.

So what’s going on?

Quite a few things, actually.

We’re still in our year of mourning, but we’ve been feeling a bit “kaddished out,” as Mira put it. I agree with the premise of her essay—that part of how the mourning ritual works is by becoming boring, so that by the time we finally reach the Yahrtzeit, we’re ready to be done with bereavement, to get back to the living, to take off the black or the widow’s weeds and start wearing colors again. To start living in color again. To start living again.

Before we each (both?) reached the point of feeling “kaddished out,” we each (both?) reached a point of wanting to celebrate that the Kaddish ritual was working. We were feeling ourselves coming back to life again. Mira wrote about it first, and then I wrote some further thoughts on the subject. I think we were on roughly the same schedule with those realizations and feelings of celebration.

Somewhere in between those two times, my life entered a period of upheaval—my wife and I were in the throes of deciding to separate, and then we were separating, she was moving out, and I’ve been regrouping, cleaning, and reorganizing since then. My grief over all those deaths didn’t go away, but it got a bit crowded out.

A few weeks later, the house is starting to feel like home again, the critters and I are readjusting to life as a smaller family, but my schedule has been chaotic. I’m working on renting out a couple of rooms. I’ve shown the place to half a dozen candidates since Sunday. I’ve got a bunch of divorce paperwork to deal with. My consulting work is ridiculously busy right now. I had two posters and a paper due on Monday for upcoming conferences. I need to coauthor another paper for yet a third conference this fall. Gjetost, the eldest cat, needs meds twice a day while she recovers from having a whole bunch of teeth extracted. Kjersti is as rambunctious as ever and needs more exercise than she’s been getting—and we both need some training. I’ve got a huge stack of bills and other paperwork to deal with that is just about to start behaving like a desk-avalanche. I’ve had a bunch of routine doctor appointments chopping up my days. I’m spending half-days onsite for a client.

Get the picture?

But I’m finally starting to feel like a musician again when I play the daily “Kaddish.” I have musical ideas again. The pacing feels better. I’m again relating the piece to the ritual to the losses to the people I’ve been missing, to the feeling of being partners with Mira in this ritual we’ve taken on.

And, curiously, along with that another thing has returned: the problem of the water accumulating in the horn and becoming noisy near the end of the piece.

It can’t be right to say I’m enjoying getting back to mourning, but that’s almost what I’m saying here.

By 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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