Thursday, January 06, 2005


This week I have encountered both life and death. And yet it is only Thursday.

But first I will introduce you to life because they always say it's nice to start on a positive note and what better positive note is there than life?
Don't answer. It's a rhetorical question of course. Life is above all and those that are not using it to its fullest are asked to begin doing so only because I, as I have already mentioned, encountered death and know what he is capable of. For one, he can end life. The one you have and the one you are not potentially cherishing.

On Monday I attended the bris, i.e. the circumcision, of my newest nephew--number five if you're counting. Needless to say, it's always a joyous event even though it involves the cutting of the oww-that-smarts part of the body. My eight-day-old nephew took the snipping like a man even though he is far from being one.
The first male child born after my father's passing is named Sahre'el Mordechai. In a moving tribute to an incredible man, Sahre'el's name is a variation of my father's Hebrew name which was "Yisroel" ("Israel" in Hebrew). Conjuring the dead in a celebration like this always creates a bittersweet atmosphere. On the one hand, you are gracious for the newest member of the family but on the other hand, you can't help but wonder why another one is not there to share in on the moment. Dad loved his grandchildren more than anything. Now one of them would carry on his memory and name, reminding us of the precious nature of life (using the word 'precious'...try not to laugh) and the fragility of it. How one goes and another one comes. By no means are these profound thoughts but they are concepts I forget. Last week, I did not have a new nephew. Two years ago, I had a dad.

Which brings me to the next portion: Death.
I had an incredibly disturbing dream the other night. In fact, its taken me two days to find the comfort to speak it aloud.
I sat in a dark room thick with black, almost plague-like darkness, while a dimly lit candle flickered on the non-descript wooden conference table. Sitting across from me was Death. With his boney fingers and hooded robe, his visage was as cliche as it could get. It seemed my imagination wanted respite from overuse in my sleep. Death told me that it was it was time to go. Even in the land of consciousness, I distinctly remember my feelings of anxiety and fear. It was palpable like drinking a glass of sweat. I pleaded for some more time, I begged with such desperation that two days later I still feel the echoing effect and the ripples of helplessness. Death consented and granted me until 7PM that day.
It was at this exact moment that I woke up, unsure whether my encounter was indeed a dream or if it had been a prophecy.

I spent the rest of the day belittling the dream, convincing myself that many other have had similar experiences, similar visions. Moreover, I did some research online looking for explanations and insights into my candlelit meeting with the Grim Reaper. What I found is that many people dream about their own deaths but not too many feel comfortable with discussing it. Which is understood especially for the superstitious. Death in a dream symbolizes one's moving on from one stage in his/her life to another. Transition from a previous chapter and encountering the next and the truth is that that is exactly how I feel. Embarking on this new year, I have a great deal of hope and confidence. With graduate school on the horizon and with the many people now entering my life, I feel the duality of life and death stirring within me. In some ways, I am ending who I was. And in other ways, I am becoming something entirely new. Like my dream, a part of me is dying. And like my nephew and the symbolic baby of the new year, I face the world anew unsure.

Shamingly, I still stood before a clock at 6:58 staring at the hands of time ticking until 7:00 PM when I found myself both relaxed and alive.

I would live on to face life and death in some capacity, just as I had done in the beginning of this week, taming them both, learning to make them my friends. While I aknowlegde my mortality, I celebrate it's potency and potential as well.

Happy New Year to all and may it be a brilliant one for you and your loved ones.


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