I stand by my parents’ graves, as I do every year around the week of Hanukkah. It is a cool winter day; the skies are grey except for a pink cloud hanging on the horizon beyond the two cedar trees that were planted next to the graves twenty years ago. The trees are slightly crooked and lean toward each other as if for comfort. Their intertwining branches form a gap through which I can see new houses climbing like goats on the steep mountains that surround Jerusalem, my former home city. I cannot see the highway meandering below, but I can hear the buzz of the traffic rising in the clear air.
As I do every year on my visit, I deliver a short update. I tell my parents that I finally retired, and that's what everyone tells me.
"Now you can rest, you deserve it."
It's time to rest, I think, first to myself, and now more loudly in front of the graves. Rest from what? Rest for what? And what made me deserving of this rest?
Do I expect an answer from a mountain covered with resting people? I stand there in the quiet for a few minutes, roll the words in my head, look around, and wait—will the answer come?
It's time to rest.
Or maybe now is the time to let go of everything that has been holding me back for the past few years. The hesitations, the pondering, the ‘what ifs,' the concerns regarding ‘what will they say?’
Perhaps this is the time to look for and discover hidden talents and hobbies that have been neglected over the years.
A time to grant me permission to express my opinions freely and without reservations.
Be an eccentric old woman,
Feed street cats,
Collect secondhand relics in goodwill stores for display,
Be forgetful, and careless, make mistakes, and own them like well-fitting dresses.
Family and friends might nod their heads in bewilderment.
"Such an organized person, so calculated, so logical, what had happened?"
And I will smile inwardly—perhaps it was not time for rest just yet.
I pick two small round stones and place one on each grave. I give the view one last look. Maybe I got my answer, or it is still forming and taking shape. It will be a year before I will stand here again, talking to my parents. In the meantime, they will continue to rest, and I will continue to search for answers.