“ON ROSH HASHANAH WILL BE INSCRIBED AND ON YOM KIPPUR WILL BE SEALED – how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die after a long life and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword and who by beast, who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval and who by plague, who by strangling and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severity of the Decree.”
Yesterday was Yom Kippur, and this morning at three AM Josh Silverman woke up trembling. Someone had touched his shoulder. He was sure of it. It wasn’t his wife; she was sound asleep. He thought about getting up to check the doors and windows. But he understood that wouldn’t make any sense now. He was not a deeply religious person, but he knew whoever had touched him was long gone. He tried to close his eyes. But his eyes would not stay closed. His eyes would stay open until the end. He could see and hear everything, better than ever. He decided to take a walk outside in the dark. He passed by the homeless and the college students. He felt like talking randomly to people, but he did not want to appear crazy. Yesterday he and his wife had apologized and forgiven each other for whatever pain they had caused each other over the past year. It was a good tradition. He kept walking, under the streetlights, waiting for something to happen, maybe a car crash or a lightning bolt. But nothing did. At seven he turned around and went home. He made coffee and read the news. His wife joined him at their usual time, eight o’clock. He marveled at how beautiful she looked across the breakfast table, How beautiful and how old. They didn’t speak but they were very aware of each other’s presence. The day passed. He did his work, chatted with his adult children on the phone. Ate some ice cream, walked the dog. His time was coming. But what should he do about it?
“You should have thought about that years ago,” he could hear his mother saying. “You’re always procrastinating.” He smiled, it was good to think about her. He picked up a pen and wrote down her name. Then the names of all his deceased relatives. Even the cousins. That made him feel good too. Then he started writing down his memories of them. He made another list of his close friends who had passed away and wrote about them too. The memories were vivid and detailed, as real as the view out his window, as real as the plant on his desk. Writing them down helped him make sense of his life.
“What’cha working on,” his wife asked.
I’m getting ready, he thought.
“Just doodling”, he said. “I’ll show you when it’s done.”
Knowing that made him feel good too. He wasn’t alone.
It was all going to be OK.