New Year's Eve, 5768

Shoes this morning on the way to work:

flap. flap. slap. flap. slap. slap.

not. right. not. right. not. right.

Thank God I got that audio last week, during what I determined was The Best Interview I’ve ever experienced. The one after which, when I got into the car, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He had said some of the most poetic things I had ever heard. But he was soooooooooo sick. He had talked between breaths. Breathed between words. It would take so long to build up the breath to complete a thought that a delayed “cucumbers!” or “painting!” would come out long after we had moved on from discussions of diet or activity.

I had watched his stomach rISE and FALl. Saw him close his eyes for 10 minutes to concentrate on his breath after he had walked to the bathroom and back. Listened quietly to his oxygen machine.. Slurp, gurglegurglegurgle, slurp slurp purrrr.

Not right, I had thought then. I left after a longer debriefing than usual: you may want to ask the doctor about this (showing my written list to his wife), this, this, and this.

not. right. not. right. not right, notright, notrightnotrightnotright.

It’s too late, isn’t it? Yes, its too cold this morning. Too windy. The kind of cold and wind elders tell me can literally

take.

your.

breath.

away!

I asked my supervisor when I got in this morning: have you gotten in touch with that client? No, they hadn’t answered the phone. Indeed.

So it had happened. I called; the wife answered. The news was delivered. On the eve of the year 5768, the New Year, I learned that the client who gave The Best Interview Ever, had passed away. He was hospitalized the night of our interview, and died early Monday morning.

Thank God I have that audio, I told the newly-widowed widow. I’ll edit you up a copy. You know, I said, when I had asked him what brings meaning to his life, he had pointed at you. Do you remember? I don’t have the audio for that, I laugh. You can’t hear pointing! But he had done it. Your husband, I continued, had touched me in a way few others have. Did he? she asked. He did. Amidst talk of cucumbers and painting, he did.

I can’t afford tickets to Rosh Hashana services this year, so I’ll be celebrating the New Year at home. I had felt badly about missing services; needing that intimate space in which to talk to God about everything that had happended in 5767. Ghana; the isolation, the children, the frustration, the fear, the hunger, the music, the laughter, the return to Alberta; feeling lost, placeless, hopeless. Then, the Bang! Steep rise to a new purpose, new friends and a renewed sense of beauty in a cloudy Albertan sky and the tight grasp of an elder’s hands. But today, that need has dissipated. It seems, I’ve already spoken to God.

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