Erev Rosh Hashonah
Rosh Hashanah is more commonly known as the Jewish New Year, a time of reflection, repentance and contemplation of the coming year. Papa had a deep connection with Judaism and erev Rosh Hashanah (the eve of Rosh Hashana) ordinarily would have imbued him with a solemn, spiritual awe.
This year, however, Papa would observe the first Rosh Hashanah since his beloved father's death, the first Rosh Hashanah since he'd realized his childhood was forever lost, his family was forever changed, and his adopted country was no longer just a temporary stop on the way to some imagined restoration of the world he once knew. He must have been bent with the burden of his sadness. Was he able to hide it, as he preferred to do, from his sisters as he walked from synagogue with them, ate with them, blessed the challah and recited the prayers his father had taught him?
I've searched my memory and I cannot recall any Rosh Hashanah with Papa, though I know I must have spent at least four with him. By the time I was born he would have shaken his sadness, during the holidays he would have been speechless not with feelings of loss and confusion, but with feelings of joy over his family's presence, perfect happiness over my presence. I must have known it, this perfect happiness.