When my daughter Shayna was a toddler, she excelled in the swift emotional swings typical of that age. She could switch from crying to laughing in an instant, sometimes beginning the latter before the former had run its course. This mostly happened when the original cause of Shayna's tears was her being teased by one of her older brothers, and the perpetrator attempted to cover his tracks by quickly doing something that she found amusing.
Shayna's simultaneous crying and laughing was dubbed "craffing*" in our family. Most likely, it was Aaron who came up with the name; that was his style of humor.
While Shayna's concrete, physical expression of concurrent joy and sadness is something only a small child can truly achieve, I am finding that internal "craffing" has become a familiar state for me. Since losing Aaron, nearly every joyous life event, every child-related simcha, and even mundane life milestones, are now intertwined with sorrow. The too-often used term "bittersweet" does little justice to either the essence or the intensity of this feeling. A crude analogy, but somewhat closer to the mark, would be the sensation of eating a delicious meal while suffering from intensely painful oral sores. Each mouthful is both an ecstasy and an agony, the pain and the pleasure coming from the same area, yet entirely unrelated.
That gives just a glimpse, just a hint, of the overwhelming wave of emotion that hit me when my new nephew was named after Aaron last week. The joy and the sadness were oh so concurrent, yet separate; linked, yet not intermingled. This afternoon, I held little Aharon for the first time. He looked up at me with his tiny, unfocused infant eyes, and once again the contradictory, yet co-dependent feelings hit me like a physical blow.
I have been trying, these past sixteen months, to adjust to the new reality that Aaron's sudden loss has thrust upon our family. Some days, some events, are easier to deal with than others. Lifecycle related simchas - births, bar mitzvahs, and especially weddings - are by far the hardest. The sorrow and bliss come together, neither diminishing the other, but rather maintaining an odd, disconcerting co-existence.
I don't know if I'll ever truly be free of this wrenching and visceral response. But perhaps, someday, I'll be able to deal better with it, to move beyond my anger and resentment at no longer being able to experience pure joy, unadulterated happiness. Maybe - hopefully - there will come a time when I'll accept that when I could be sobbing, craffing is a step in the right direction.