Saturday, August 3, 2013


For someone as terrible at eighth grade algebra as I was, I love a good reconciliation. You know, the numbers kind. I love the way numbers just have to work, that there is a right answer in the end, even if it's hard to find it. When I was learning to do compliance work at my last job, I figured out a way to get a complicated test usually done by hand, with a pen and a ruler to keep track of what line you were on, into Excel, and I so enjoyed getting it right. No rounding or close enoughs, but down to the hundreths place right.

My Aunt Alison, my dad's younger sister, died a week ago. It was too soon after we had a chance to reconcile two years ago, after essentially not having any contact for 17 years.

It's not my story to tell, really, how that 17 year gap in our lives happened. We live on opposite ends of the country, and it may as well have been opposite ends of the world. But I missed them. I talked about my aunt who took me to see the actual London Bridge in Arizona, who decorated a hat box for storing all of my bat mitzvah paraphernalia, who sent me two dozen roses on my fourteenth birthday.

Uncle Marc, my Dad, Aunt Alison

But my brother now lives in California, too, and Facebook came into our lives. I saw my uncle's profile picture and realized with new clarity that Hannah has Pollock family eyes. Slowly, connections were built again. I now know about the lives of my first cousins, including some that I have never met in person, or not since they were toddlers. Two years ago, at my brother's wedding, I was overjoyed to see my aunt, uncle and his new wife, and eventually my cousin Samantha as well. It was hard to keep my emotions in check that entire weekend, as I had attended so many events as part of Marc's extended family in the past decade, but none with my own. Getting to spend that time with them meant more to me than I'm sure anyone realized. Had I known this was the last time I'd get to hug my aunt, I would have held on longer. As it was, I cried as we drove away, thinking that it was like getting to hug my grandmother again, one last time. My grandmother was taken away too young too. I used to cry every time we said goodbye--it was never enough for me. In some ways, especially considering how weepy I've been this past week, I haven't really stopped crying.

It's not fair. The time we had after we reconciled was just too short.

With my Aunt Alison

I wasn't able to make it to the funeral this week, and that's been hard to reconcile too. If you were to ask me, I'd say that I'm a person who attends funerals, but I have enough evidence now to support the opposite theory. I didn't attend any of my grandparents funerals either, though I wished desperately to be at my grandfather's funeral just after my back surgery.  I would have liked to say goodbye, to have that closure. I went to synagogue alone on the day of the funeral, trying to find something there, but I didn't find it. I'm hoping that by writing this post I can, again, reconcile life a bit. But these feelings don't fit into nice neat columns in Excel, no rulers to guide me into straight lines. There is no down to the hundreths place right, there is only rounding and close enough for time wasted and now, lost.

I do love a good reconciliation. But it would have been better if we'd never needed one.


  1. I, too, have often wished that relationships could be simpler. But I suppose that the complexity and unpredictability make them that much more dear and special. As for closure, I feel that it's one of life's greatest teases. Every time I've reached for it, I can never quite get a grasp, no matter how sure I am that it should be attainable for once. I'm so sorry for your loss. Though I don't imagine things are ever going to feel "right" again for you, it is my hope that you can find peace all the same.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. I am glad that you had a chance to see her in happier times. I find myself struggling with the whole concept of closure too. I'm starting to think that there are some relationships that are so complicated and bring up so many feelings that perhaps closure or peace comes in layers. My thoughts are with you. :)