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Monday, January 14, 2019

Guilt

I feel guilty. Lots of people tell me what a good son I was to my father, whom I called by his name, Sholom. (What a concept: I am not a son anymore!!) It doesn't matter what they tell me. I still feel guilty. I shouldn't--probably shouldn't--objectively. But I do.

Why do I feel guilty? I could have done more. I could have recommended my father go to the hospital before his kidneys started failing him. Maybe his bladder tumor could have been diagnosed earlier. (Probably nothing could have been done at that point in any case.) I could have spent more time with him. Never mind that, four years ago, I arranged for him to buy an apartment right next to me and we spent many hours together, over dinner, going to concerts and museums and on walks. I could have spent more time with him. I could have had more conversations with him. I could have asked more questions about his life, found out more about his childhood and experiences, developed deeper insight into his thinking, found out more about why he made the decisions he did, tried harder to uncover the many secrets that still, and now will always, remain.

And I could have been there when he fell out of his bed a few weeks ago, and I had to call an ambulance service to get him back into bed. Never mind that the next day I drove around looking for and buying guard rails so it wouldn't happen again. And then he made me feel guilty when he said I was too busy with my own life and should have been there. Never mind that he was already very ill and not thinking as clearly as usual. I could have been there. And I wasn't.

And I could have been there when he took his last breath. Never mind that I was there a few minutes before, stroking him and trying to comfort him. But I didn't say final words to him. And then I left to lie down for a few minutes because I had a headache. And then he took his last breath. And I wasn't there. And I could have been.

And I could have recited the deathbed confession, the וידוי with him. And I didn't, because I wasn't expecting him to die just then. Never mind that he had stopped eating a few days before. That in retrospect it was so clear that his last day could be any day and his last breath could be any time. At the time, which was only last week, only five days ago, I thought he had more time. Because I couldn't conceive that the end was upon him. And so I had my son run into my home, just next door, and bring a siddur and recited the confession and then lit a candle and called the funeral home and arranged for flights to California and for the funeral in Berkeley and wrote and delivered a eulogy and inform family and friends.

Never mind that I did all that. That I was a good, a pretty good, son. That I did my best to honor and care for him. It wasn't my best. It could, it should, it might, have been more.

I feel guilty. Maybe, hopefully, this journey, this unwanted journey, into mourning will change my feelings. It may take some time. That feeling isn't going away any time soon.

I'm sorry Sholom. Please accept my apologies.

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