We went to Christmas Revels at Harvard on Wednesday.
If there was such a thing as the “ninth night” of Chanukah, that would have been the night.
But there is no ninth night.
Revels this year had a skeleton figure which moved silently and somberly throughout the show - even dancing in the lobby of Memorial Hall during” Lord Of The Dance”. Ironically, the skeleton was played by a young, lithe woman. To me, the skeleton embodied “death”; the program ascribed “time”. One could make a case for synonymousness.
Both Chuck and I found the skeleton’s presence disturbing. That’s because we are acutely conscious of death, now that Chuck’s aunt is dying.
We are all dying. Trite and cliched but it is natheless true. As we come to terms with Tanta’s cancer and begin to work with hospice, how can we be anything else but aware of death?
So to attend Revels, a celebratory tradition for us going back decades, and be repeatedly confronted with death, when what we wanted was distraction and delight, was painful. It didn’t matter that I spent intermission and one quarter of the second act on my cell phone with caregivers, an agency and an emergency room. When that incident was resolved I wanted to go back to good cheer. No matter how rousing the songs nor how robust the audience participation, there she was, the skeleton in our midst.
Perhaps it was coincidence or perhaps a message from the universe and, most likely, of universal importance. But it was more than we wanted; frankly, more than we needed.
Tanta will turn 89 next week. Her doctor, who says he is always wrong about such monumental predictions, says it will not be a year and it will not be six months.
There will likely be no 90th birthday celebration for Tanta.
Just as there is no ninth night.