I am the newsletter editor for our little shul. It's a volunteer job, and like all volunteer jobs, it has its baggage, as well as its delights.
I've always thought that one of the worst parts of the job is compiling the monthly Yahrzeit list--it's an anniversary list of sorts, but of deaths. It lets people know on which night they should light a candle, when to say kaddish. It's a necessary, useful task. But the list I get--though not the one I publish--includes the names of the congregants who need to get the reminder notice from the synagogue. It also includes the relationships of the deceased to those people. And so--as I strip that personal, private information from the list--I am reminded each month of another set of losses. I'll remember how hard S took it when her father passed; I'll notice that H lost two sons on the same day in some distant time, and that they were both in the military. I end up spending too much time thinking about deaths gone by. It's sobering.
But today, I realized that I'm wrong. That's not the worst. Not by a long shot. Because today, I'm compiling the birthday list.
This is my third year editing the newsletter; I've developed some shortcuts. One of those is to pull up the birthday list from that same month the year before, and just add any new members' names, or move a new 18-year-old from the Kids' Birthdays list to the Adults' Birthdays list.
Today? Well, today I had to highlight and delete an entry from the latter list. The name of a man I had great fondness for; a man whose wife I truly adore. A man whose funeral I attended less than two months ago. A man who won't be having a birthday this September. A man whose name will appear on the Yahrzeit list next June or July, where it will make me sigh, but where, maybe, it won't make me cry, because it will be an addition, not a deletion.
I do not like deletions.