Today I took B to a Bar Mitzvah hosted by an old friend. I have so little exposure to Jewish traditions, but I appreciated the community and spirituality of the event. B wasn't interested in staying with the other kids and babysitters in the play area, so she promised to be quiet and stay with me in the sanctuary. She did very well, throughout the 2 1/2 hour service. And my friend's twin sons did beautifully, too.
But I felt like I was traveling in an isolation chamber. No one spoke to me, and I spoke to no one. A few people smiled at B, and one or two people asked how old she was. My friend stopped briefly at our table as we were eating lunch, and I got to say "Mazel Tov" to the boys when we first arrived. Otherwise, we were observers, looking in on normal family lives from the outside.
The only other Bar Mitzvah I've attended was in the spring, for the oldest son of T's oldest friend. At that service I felt very included and a part of the community, and I cried through the entire event. There was a slide show of photos of the family, and extended family, and T's smiling face appeared several times. The siblings of T's friend were all in attendance, and all made a point to spend some time with me. We even stayed at our friend's mother's house.
But in a fundamental way, the pain I felt today, and the pain of last spring, was the same. Bar Mitzvahs celebrate family, and highlight for me the gaping hole in ours. Whether the people around me knew anything about me and my story or not, I couldn't help but constantly reflect on my loss. Add to that the 2 hour drive each way, alone with a three-year-old who didn't sleep going or coming, and I am exhausted tonight. And stuck in my sadness, feeling very lonely and sorry for myself.