Welcome to February! There is just something about this month — Presidents weekend, leap year, and, of course, Groundhog Day. I was too lazy to google the origins of Groundhog Day, but I am assuming it had something to do with someone who had a pet groundhog and decided he/she was clairvoyant and could predict the weather. Is that what happened? I will have to google it at some point, but for now, we will go with that theory.
Truth is, every year, I wait to see what the groundhog will see. This year, we are in quite a pickle. One groundhog saw its shadow and the other groundhog did not. What does this mean? Either six more weeks of winter or six more weeks until spring. All I know is that the movie Groundhog Day was awful. It was one of the very few things my dad and I didn’t agree on because he really liked that movie. What can you do?
February continues to be filled with not-so-happy things. It was 19 years ago that I had a pregnancy loss at about 18 weeks. 19 years. It is crazy to think that I would have had a high school senior home during the pandemic. God works in mysterious ways; I guess he knew how ill-equipped I would have been to handle everything that went along with having a teenager home during the lockdown. I cannot imagine that it would have ended well. But it is what it is. Things happen for a reason, and usually for the best. And that is that.
February is also the month when my father-in-law was born, and in an eerie and ironic coincidence, Husband #1’s year for his avelut for his father ended that same day.
So how do you “celebrate” ending your year of mourning? (Especially when your wife still has a few more months to go in her year of mourning)? Husband #1 and I got in the car and took a road trip to the land of cholov yisroel milk and honey. If you guessed Monsey, then you would be correct. Even though I have seen all the remarkable sights, celebrity homes, and school buses with many Yiddish words on them, I humored Husband #1 by letting him take me on a tour of his childhood. If you are reading this and you are from Monsey, chances are that Husband #1 showed me your house. If you were really lucky, I sent you a photo, and if you were really, really lucky, I Facetimed you from your childhood home. Husband #1 can talk about his “homeland” forever. The friends he had, the shortcuts to shul, and various establishments that he and his family frequented. I got to see where my fil would get his $8 haircut, where his medical offices were, and where Husband #1 used to do his banking.
I thought it would be cathartic for him if all else failed, so we went to a very expensive restaurant for dinner. That way, he could put his grief aside for a moment and try to figure out how he got scammed into eating a $44 hamburger. But it was in celebration of his father, so it was ok.
Starting January 15, we have been revisiting all of the not-so-great stuff that happened a year ago. Husband #1’s fall, which left him unable to fly to Florida to visit his father, and then left him with a brain bleed after he sat shiva for him. Time just keeps reminding us of all these things. The last time we Facetimed his dad. The Oreos talk about the last words of Torah that their grandpa shared with them. A whole year has gone by. Winter, spring, summer, and fall. All the holidays. And now Husband #1 can go to weddings, listen to music, and buy clothes to replace the ones that needed replacing even before he lost his dad.
And here I am, with three months to go. Husband #1 isn’t holding my hand through this anymore, because it is his turn to reenter society, to celebrate simchas with friends. A year is a long time, and yet it doesn’t feel like nearly enough.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is not happy that Husband #1 got rid of his beard and is starting a #bringbackthebeard campaign. Feel free to donate.