Signs of Life After Death and Passover Narrow Places

Okay, so Passover is over. I feel like I missed most of it…and while I’ve moved through a few narrow places and come out the other side of the parted waters, I’m still stuck in a few other tight spots.

I missed a good bit of Passover this year, because my father-in-law passed away on Friday, March 30th at about 8:35 PST. I know the approximate time, because my kids and I were in the process of doing Shabbat blessings (a little late, I know…). We had lit the Shabbat candles and said a special prayer for their grandfather, Miles, to have an easy transition and each in our own way said good bye to him – let him go. Some time after the candle blessing and before the blessing for the challah, one of our candles went out, and I checked the time as I wondered if this was a sign that Miles was gone. About 15 minutes later, my husband, Ron, called to tell me Miles had died. I knew then for sure that my father-in-law had heard our prayers, come to say goodbye and then had felt released. Granted it was not just our prayers that released him. His wife had just gone to bed. My husband had already voiced that he was ready for his Dad’s suffering – and his own – to end. Still, it provided me and my children with evidence of the non-local nature of the soul and of life after death. It proved to me once again that prayers have tremendous power.

So, we cancelled our first-night seder and boarded a plane on Monday morning to go to Missouri for a funeral. We had a hard time observing the dietary restrictions while staying in my mother-in-law’s home, but we finally opened out boxes of matzoh on Thursday upon returning home and had a seder on the seventh night of the holiday rather than not at all.

As for narrow places…well, my father-in-law’s illness and passing definitely constituted one. There has been my search for an agent, which is over, but I am still waiting for a publisher for that book and literary representation for my cookbook…and that feels like a narrow place (widening a bit but still tight). Time continues to feel tight, and my work load feels crushing. Financially, my husband and I are in a tight spot as well, but it should be opening up soon as well. So, some freedom has been achieved, but I don’t feel totally on dry land yet.

Is it possible to be totally on the other side of the Red Sea, dry and free? Or is there always another narrow place? Is it like one birth canal after another? Can we be sure the waters will always part when we find ourselves trapped on the edge of the ocean? Will there be life on the other side?

I suppose life often presents us with narrow places. More than that I see that when we keep putting goals in front of ourselves – like writing a book…and earning more money…and getting in shape…and losing 10 pounds…and proposing another book – we continually create new narrow places. And if we keep moving forward with faith – like Nachshon entering the water of the Red Sea up to his nose – the waters do, indeed, part. We aren’t always sure what we will find on the other side, but with faith and perseverance we do end up on the other shore, closer to our goal, a little bit more free, changed a lot or a little, still alive.

So, here’s to Miles, who lived a good life and lives on in the memories of his family and friends and whose memory is a blessing. And here’s to narrow places, rebirths and life itself. L’chaim. To life. To Living.

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