Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

Short Musings on the Occasion of My Dad’s 10-Year Jahrzeit

Grief sneaks up on you.

It also plays havoc with time, shattering any semblance of linearity.

And suddenly, some significant date hurls you backward on a calendar that didn’t make sense to begin with. For how can you measure absence? Much less ever really believe it?

Today, May 16, 2023, is somehow, inexplicably, ten years since my bio dad exhaled his last breath. A day much like today, with so much abundance of the breath of life all around me in the form of spring flowers, just like May 16, 2013, when it seemed spring had never birthed such spectacularly vibrant and lush beauty, even as I was witness to the final breath that precedes death.

It didn’t feel real, those ten years, my dad, that he is gone or was ever here (his nine months of “suspended death” and “not life” before he finally died well seemed to have reprogrammed my memory of him in the worst of ways)—that is, until I took a walk this afternoon in the drizzly rain, and the teardrops sticking to tulips all around me propelled me into the sorrow, the numbness, the grief. I passed a bleeding heart—a flower just outside the room he died in—and my heart mimicked it, turning upside down and spilling out ache.

Spilling out images and remembrance, and how it still seems surreal that I somehow can’t see and talk to and visit with and be annoyed by and love face-to-face my dad.

So I went back indoors, still damp from rain and maybe tears, and re-read some of what I wrote while he was dying, about his death, and in particular, some reflections two weeks after he died. I’d titled it “Bound Up in Life,” posting it alongside others on my wordpress blog.

In it, I noted how “he was really bad at achieving ‘success’ within hierarchical institutions and bureaucracy,” yet instead “actually did good in numerous unsung mitzvah after mitzvah, acts of human kindness, … by always seeing the good in what might be called ‘the little guy,’” affirming it and lending care. Such kindness doesn’t get inscribed on monuments, but to me it’s everything. As I added, “It can end up having ripple effects, the legacy of stone upon stone upon stone that binds us to life and each other.”

May his memory be a blessing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 17, 2023 by in Uncategorized.


%d bloggers like this: