This Wednesday, September 23rd is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
As a young child attending a Jewish Day School, my teachers encouraged me seek forgiveness for anything I might have done to hurt someone in the previous year, so that God would write me in the "Book of Life" for another year.
My childhood class was full of over-zealous, high achieving personalities...and so as the holidays approached there was great anxiety to apologize for anything and everything we might have done, lest divine countenance not smile upon us for another year.
Life has taken me a long distance from that Jewish Day School class. I've forgotten more Hebrew than most people ever knew and it's been months since I've attended a Synagogue service. Yet I find myself thinking about atonement and forgiveness each year as summer turns to fall.
This year, still grieving my stillborn son, I struggle with questions of guilt and forgiveness that my schoolgirl self could not have fathomed.
How do you say "I'm sorry" to the baby whose eyes will never see the world outside his mother's womb?
How do you say "I'm sorry" to the living child who anxiously awaited a sibling that will never come home?
How do you say "I'm sorry" to the father who was robbed of the chance to watch his boys play side by side?
How do you say "I'm sorry" to the mother (me!) who never had the chance to feel her baby's warm body against her own?
How do you forgive the body whose immune system attacked its baby, robbing your family or all this and more?
I don't have the answers...but this year at Yom Kippur, I'm trying to find forgiveness. Maybe I'll even find the courage to rejoin the book of life for the coming year...