Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.


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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Bound

...I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
- "I Am A Rock", Simon and Garfunkel
We're having our first major snowstorm of the season tonight. And besides worrying about how we'll get out on Monday, it's got me thinking about lots of things.

How much we're creatures of conditioning. Throughout my life, I have lived in areas where winter snow was not rare enough to be a major sensation, yet not ubiquitous enough for it to be taken for granted. When it snowed any significant amount, therefore, school was invariably cancelled. Throughout my childhood, winter after winter, I would go to bed every Sunday through Thursday night praying for snow.

And though for over two decades now, snow has meant for me not freedom but only extra work and aggravation - digging out, risky driving, kids stuck at home while I'm trying to telecommute - I still feel a deep, almost primal excitement watching those big, white fuzzy flakes falling. It's a piece of my childhood that will never truly leave, like a hibernating beast with a bad sense of timing, who awakens not with spring's thaw but only during the most impassable winter nights.

Then I reflect on the vivid imagery that begins the song I quoted above, perhaps Paul Simon's finest bit of lyrical poetry. "I Am A Rock" may be unique in that its author is identifying, in his depression, with the very snow itself. I had a friend in college who taught me to love S&G's music, and who also, during some of that time, went through a very difficult period in his life. At his lowest moments, he would play this song, sometimes repeatedly. "I Am A Rock" still makes me think about this friend, but not of his past sadness. Rather, it reminds me how one can climb out of the depths of depression, and that the key to beating it may well be in the very thing that Paul's protagonist claimed to disdain - friendship and love.

Having suffered a loss which I still cannot even find words to adequately express, let alone to explain, I have been having my own struggles with depression these past nine months. I know some will argue that if you have a "real reason" to be sad, it shouldn't be called "depression". But whatever the cause, emotional or chemical, the feelings are just as painful, the impacts just as difficult to manage.

I have better and worse days, better and worse moments within each day. Mostly I function remarkably well - yet there will be times that it will just suddenly hit me again, as fresh as when the doctor first spoke those words that I would have gladly have gone deaf before hearing. In those moments of horrible clarity, of sharp realization that Aaron is really, truly lost to me forever, my life itself can feel oh so worthless, its continuation almost an affront to reality.

And then the moment will pass. And I will recall - not without a struggle - that do still have so much to live for. Debbie, the other children, my mom and siblings. My friends, those in the "real world" and those I've met though the new sharing experience of my writing. Most of all, I must go on for myself.

And I must remember to hold on, as hard as I can, to the capacity to enjoy the little joys in life that can help to both distract and - ultimately - to heal. The love of my family. Sandy's greeting at the door. A smile from a friend. Even good food or an exciting book.

And snow.

6 Comments:

At 2/12/06, 4:43 AM, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Elie,

Let it snow let it snow let it snow! ... but not tonight because that very wondrous and white stuff is preventing our speaker from flying to Chicago for our shul's Federation brunch Sunday morning. Oh well, plan B calls for an audio hookup.

As for your feelings evoked by the beauty of snow (as long as one is inside!) I relate perfectly well though I experience the same sensation in the wee hours while writing and often on the way home after a long day.

In fact, I'm just about finished with a ahort chapter that tells of my thoughts this past week while on the way home.

I remain,

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

 
At 2/12/06, 4:46 AM, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

for "ahort" read: "short"!

Alan

 
At 2/12/06, 4:27 PM, Blogger swiftthinker said...

My depression is so new for me and I really appreciate always getting a glimpse from you as to what might be down the road in terms of feelings. Again I don't try and compare the loss of a parent to the loss of a child but this is the worst thing I have ever experienced. The shloshim for my father is this week and I am thankful that I have a year to be in aveilus to try not to forget. I relish in my depression right now. Something about going right back to normal just doesn't seem right. Yes life goes on and we have kids and a family and thank g-d for that. It proves to be a fantastic distraction and something to be so obviously thankful for now. Yet everything is also different and I don't know that my life will ever seem untainted again. At every simcha and every turn I will always also be thinking of the person who is missing. I think that to not have bouts of depression later on would be abnormal.

 
At 2/13/06, 11:24 AM, Blogger benros52589 said...

i won't be contributing to your blog as much anymore i love it but my time is limited thank you very much

 
At 2/13/06, 11:28 AM, Blogger Elie said...

No prob, Ben! I'm glad for you to spend the time on homework or divrei torah web sites instead!

 
At 2/14/06, 10:49 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

That's a very potent song - I've always felt a strong connection to it.

I'm sure there are many lines that you can relate to more than ever now.

 

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