Tonight at sundown begins the Jewish New Year 5769. For some reason, this year this time of reflection has brought me back to the beginning of the year 5757. That year was significant to me back then – probably because my birth year is 1957, so the double “57s” were cool. It was 12 years ago – 1996. Where was I then compared to where I am now?
More specifically, I’ve been thinking about how and where my (then-divorcing) family was then and looking at what’s happening now.
In 1996, I was a single parent with two children aged five and seven. It was one of the first times that I was not with my children on the first night of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah.) I clearly remember how I felt that night -- sad, lost, fearful, angry, and lonely. I drove to synagogue to sing with the choir. The singing made me feel good and filled some time. But there was lots of empty time. I missed my children. Any parent who has spent any holiday without their children can understand the feeling.
In any event, it has been 12 years since the beginning of my family’s divorce process. I didn’t know it then, but I was creating a peaceful divorce. I refused to litigate. I continued to “put on the brakes” when things got stirred up. I waited for the dust to settle, and for emotions to calm down (including mine) instead of making rash decisions. Divorce was not an “event” for our family; rather is it a process that has consequences we all continue live with.
Part of that process includes creating a vision for each special event we are privileged to celebrate in life and, then, working toward it. Through the years, my family has enjoyed holidays and other celebrations with varied combinations of our extended and blended family. As an individual, I am challenged to create alternative holiday rituals and grow through my divorce. Tonight I will not be with my children to celebrate the beginning of the New Year, but I feel a sense of calm and peace I did not think was possible a dozen years ago.