What’s strange about writing my book

My book is coming along, slowly but surely. It’s a bit strange writing a memoir about the year I lost my dad and said Kaddish for him (the traditional Jewish way of mourning a parent).

It’s strange because as a journalist, for the most part, I write about other people’s stories, not my own. I’ve written three reflections on saying Kaddish, however, and they seemed to strike a chord with many people.

It’s strange because as a journalist, I work from notes I take during interviews or events that I’m covering. During the year of Kaddish, I made a point of not taking notes on what I was experiencing. That would have felt even more strange, and on some deep level, didn’t feel right.

It’s strange because I remember so many aspects of the Kaddish year – my feelings, bits and pieces of conversations, holidays, celebrations, funerals, things that happened at work, at home and at synagogue – that I’m starting to wonder if this is normal. It’s almost six years since my dad died. Why do I remember so much detail? Is there something different about the way my brain is wired?

I don’t think I’m obsessed, and I don’t think I’ve prolonged the mourning period. I do attribute my detailed memories to the fact that so much emotion was attached to everything I experienced that year. I’ve read that that’s supposed to enhance memory. I also have articles and thank you notes that I wrote, old emails, and my 2008 and 2009 calendars to jog my memory.

Another thing that makes a difference for me – I still attend services regularly, and that triggers memories, too.

I’m not flooded with them. They come to me in bits and pieces, and that’s how I’ve been writing them. But they seem to be turning into a cohesive whole.