Friday, November 23, 2012

Mitzvah Magic

by Laurel Corona

I never understood that bumper sticker a few years back that admonished us to “practice random acts of kindness.”  Kindness is not whimsical. It is not an arbitrary virtue that we can choose or discard based on our mood at the time.  If we are to practice kindness, should we not do it continuously?

In Hebrew the word “mitzvah” means both “commandment” and “good deed.”  This makes far more sense, because whether one believes in God or not, there is something about any good deed that feels commanded.  Thou shalt not fail to do it, because it is right, and kind, and necessary. Thou shalt do it, because thou art a human being.

Sometimes when Jews are thanked for doing someone a favor they shrug and say, “it’s a mitzvah.”  The shrug says it all.  It was just that obvious what needed to be done.

On this day after Thanksgiving, I write in honor of those who have been shrugging all year at my paltry attempts to express my gratitude during this difficult year. I have so many friends in so many places, from so many networks I have developed over the years, but I especially want to single out the members of San Diego Writing Women who have played such a role in my healing after the illness and death of my beloved husband, Jim.

On this website, the members of San Diego Writing Women are supposed to blog about the writing life, and I am going to take the liberty that a post about life and the writers in mine is close enough. 

I simply cannot imagine the last year without you.  You aren’t the only ones who supported me, of course, but in the time we have been working together some of my closest friends have come from this group.  You know who you are!

Thank you for checking in to make sure I was okay as Jim got sicker.

Thank you for dropping everything to come over to my house the day he died to have dinner with me and affirm that I was still going to have a wonderful, although changed life.

Thank you for inviting me out when I was in the early stages of grieving.

Thank you for not hovering too much.

Thank you for cheering me on when I won San Diego “Book of the Year” for a second time, for Finding Emilie,  and my number one cheerleader wasn’t there to see it.  (The photo is of me and a tearful Jim when I won for the first time, for The Four Seasons in June 2009.)

Thank you for coming over to my new place and letting me practice being successfully on my own again.

Thank you for being joyous when I started to date after "only" six months.  Thank you for knowing that life is a story, and it’s important to live the whole thing fully.  Who would know that better than you? Who would be less likely to judge than those who inhabit other people’s stories as writers do?

Thank you for helping me return to normal.  It’s a new normal, but a good one.

One mitzvah never exists in a vacuum, but is part of a web that in time forms a real community.  I’ll leave the random acts of kindness to people who don’t get that.  As bathed in love as I feel, I intend to pay it back, forward, sideways--any way at all, as Roy Orbison sang.  You got it!

I hope every reader’s Thanksgiving was a wonderful one, and that the year ahead continues to bless us so mightily.  Laurel


Caitlin Rother said...

We love you too, Laurel. ;-)

adventures said...

What a beautiful post Laurel, and a great reminder to us all!

Kathi Diamant said...

So happy to know you (and to have known Jim).

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