This year was a very different Pesach from every preceding year in my lifetime. This year was the Pesach without my mother. This has multiple significance, beyond that of mourning her recent passing and the void it has left in my life.
Last year, for the first year that I can remember, I was not invited by anyone for the holiday. Neighbors of mine who are also friends invited me to eat with them. I thought this would be great since I could sleep in my own bed, yet celebrate with people. Accepting this invite seemed to be wonderful, since my dog could also have the comforts of being in our home and not be displaced and possibly relegated to some makeshift outdoor arrangement. (If you knew my dog, you would understand; she’s DEFINITELY a house pet.)
It turned out that these dear people who invited me have a complete disregard for hygiene, both personal and environmental. I want to say that I know how to turn a blind eye to many things and have lots of patience for children. The night after the holiday I made constant trips to the loo and purged from anywhere and everywhere that one can purge. I thought I might need emergency care, with terrible pain in my stomach and lower abdomen. There were clear signs of food poisoning.
My mother of blessed memory took this very hard and it hurt her very much that I had not been invited by anyone else for the holiday. She vowed to stay in her own home and make Pesach, so that she could invite me. She was very weak and in constant pain and ordinarily she would just clean but not change over her kitchen for the work was too strenuous for her and my father.
Indeed, last Rosh Hashana, my parents stayed at home for the holiday and invited my dog and me. They prepared for a month before, cooking and baking all different kinds of holiday foods, which were delicious.
Alas, my mother was not much longer for this world. She was diagnosed with a terminal illness in December and passed away January 10 of this year. Rivka bat Yaacov was gone, Yehi Zichra Baruch; Hareini Kaparat Mishkava.
This Pesach was my first Pesach with my mother gone. Preparing for the holiday was very efficient and planned well but sad, ever so sad. I often dread this holiday because due to so much work involved, I am often very tired and sleep deprived, which makes me careless and I get hurt.
One year I cleaned with some grease remover and was too close; a couple of drops hit my eyeball. I remember the pain I endured, not to mention the fear of losing any vital function in that eye.
This year I had worked to change over my kitchen until 6:00 AM before the holiday. I fell to bed so spent, I slept on a bare mattress and without pillowcases. I didn’t even put a dressing gown on. Upon awakening at 10:00 AM I immediately showered but was still so groggy that I was uncoordinated. In getting dressed and ready, I banged my left foot right into a doorstop in the floor itself. Without time to dwell on this very painful injury, I got dressed and wore my Crocs in order to relieve pressure on the foot. I set out with Pnina Rosenblum (my dog) and we traveled for two hours to Elkanah, where I spent the holiday with some great people.
My toe was swollen and bruised so when I returned home after the first day of the holiday, I taped my toe to the one next to it. The pain was less and after 3 days of taping, the size and color were back to normal, so I removed the tape.
Just yesterday, after a few days of not taping the toes, I looked at my foot since the pain was constant and strong. My toe was again swollen and turning from purple to black. I realized it is broken and went home, where I taped it again. There is some immediate relief once it’s supported but there is still pain and I hope I will be able to rest it on the weekend.
To add insult to injury, or, to be more specific, in this case, virus to injury, I contracted the flu during Pesach. Being that it was Pesach, much of what I would ordinarily take was with the Chometz so I thought creatively and treated myself with food. I cooked a chicken soup with all fresh ingredients (no powders); ate fresh tomatoes that have vitamin C and potassium; had plenty of tea with fresh lemon; ate lemons with the peel; prepared codfish that have vitamin A and plenty Omega 3. My fever went down and again, I felt better.
After a few days, the weather dipped way down and again I had flu symptoms. This time I bought my natural vitamins and other remedies and am treating it still. My sinuses seem to be a favorite site for my flus to settle.
I would add that in changing back my kitchen, I did it with unprecedented speed and efficiency and all was right again within an hour and a half. I even ordered in a pizza and enjoyed musing at the fact that I did it, all by myself, in record time.
I’m glad we have this amazing holiday, the retelling and simulation of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt and deliverance. I just wish it would take less casualties; almost everyone I know has some mishaps in preparation for this time. In all homes this holiday involves every able member of the household. I’m proud that I do it all by myself but it’s getting harder for many reasons and I certainly wish I will find a mate with whom to share this very special experience. This was certainly a Pesach to remember.