I’m starting to feel the numbness creep in that I thought I would avoid this holiday season. It’s Chanukah, and, even though I’m not Jewish, I keep that holiday. The burning candles comfort me and bring peace in to my life. That’s worth celebrating. Tonight is the last night. The entire row will be lit. I’m hoping the warmth of the candles will take away some of this numbness. It’s a feeling that you can’t feel anything. Does that even make sense?
This year, I have done festive things. I have participated in a Chanukah Shabbat service, attended a gift swap, and even have two Christmas parties on my weekend agenda. These are better efforts than I’ve made in years past. But the numbness is taking over now.
I have to be very careful with this numbness, as it tends to lead toward self-injury. There’s a need to see blood for proof that I’m alive. The warmth of the blood against my cold skin awakens me. It’s a sick process founded by a sick mind. I have to be diligent and aware.
As the numbness creeps in, the happiness and feelings of family and love begin to fade. I am in a fight against my mind, once again, and I don’t know which of us will win.
Not long after my mother died, I went on a spiritual quest of sorts. I talked to clergy from many denominations, telling them I didn’t even know whether I believed in a deity. The one person who responded in a way of comfort was a rabbi. He answered my statement by saying I didn’t have to believe in a deity. Rather, I had to live my life the way I believed in fairness and compassion to others. Having done that, he said, there will be no worry about what’s on the other side.
We talked for hours that day. The sanctuary truly felt like a holy place, and I relaxed my control more than I intended. After that, I went through the process of conversion classes, set before the beit din in what was a very uncomfortable judgement period, and joined the congregation. It was an extremely personal experience. I kept it relatively quiet.
Whilst I no longer follow that path, I do hold some of the beliefs quite dear. Chanukah is still very much a holiday of peace and light to me, and I still observe it every year. This year, on the last night, I lit memorial candles alongside the menorah. The lights surrounded my daughter’s urn and the little angel statue, making a beautiful glow. Beauty out of tragedy. Lights of memory in every sense of the word.