Sundown January 29, 2016  coincided with the “yahrzeit”  (anniversary) of the date in the Jewish calendar in which my father z’l died in 2012. On Yahrzeit close family members of the deceased say “kaddish” a prayer that requires a minyan or prayer quorum of 10.  After my father z’l died my brothers and I followed the Jewish traditions for mourning a father which include saying of Kaddish every day for the first year following death. My brothers and I are not observant but we decided to say Kaddish because we knew our father z’l would have wanted us to do so and we wanted to honour. The daily practice with other mourners actually helped us deal with our grief  by providing us with a  moment every day in which we were able to mourn and process the loss of a person who had a huge impact on our lives. s my friend Randy said, your parents are immortal, they are the only people you are never introduced too and their loss can be devastating

After the first year, Kaddish is only said on certain occasions including the Yahrzeit. The problem was that I was going to be in Cusco Peru for the yahrzeit and I did not how to find a minyan. I had made some inquiries about finding a prayer quorum and was informed that there is a Chabad rabbi in Cusco but only for the high tourist season.  So in the end I was not able to say  a proper kaddish.

On January 29 and 30,  my brothers went to a synagogue in Toronto with my mom.  For the first time in my trip I felt very far from home and disconnected.  I was determined to mark the date somehow. I said a prayer for my dad z’l and lit a memorial candle which I put in the window overlooking the mountains surrounding Cusco. The place was foreign but the words  of the prayer and the feelings that it evoked were very familiar.  For a moment I felt the absence of my dad z’l very strongly. A kind of emptiness in my stomach and chest. However,  the feeling of loss and sadness was quickly replaced by a flood of memories of my dad z’l and of  the times when everyone in our original family unit was still alive.  It is bitter sweet to know that memory is all that remains of the past and of the people we have lost. However, memory is precious, portable and despite the variations caused by re-remembering- enduring.  I can take my memories wherever I go and I can honour the people who are no longer here in my daily life by thought and action. On this trip and in life I will try to follow the lessons and example that my father z’l and my mother and others have provided to me.


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