My grief over your death is manifesting itself as months of writer’s block. That’s as far as I got. So, nu? Just like that, the existential gives way to the editorial. You aren’t here to help me parse the permutations, let alone avoid phrases like “parse the permutations” — let alone remember the right rhetorical orientation of “let alone” — so I’ll try it myself:

Grief is Writer’s Block
That’s not right. Grief is grief. That’s as much of a definition as I can currently muster. I think this is the first time I have experienced grief. I have known loss. I have mourned. But this is different. Not a fan. Also I just went back and changed “I’ve” to “I have” for gravitas.

Grief and Writer’s Block
Together at last! I suppose they could be parallel phenomena … Mahna Mahna? Quick Muppet break: Ed Sullivan, November 30, 1969. Same night Neil Diamond sang Sweet Caroline, same month Sesame Street premiered. 

There is no shortage of things that make it hard to sit down and not almost immediately go down a rabbit hole — Jim Henson Idea Man documentary streaming on Disney+ today! — but this is not a mere correlation. You were such an integral part of my writing process that I don’t need Elmo to explain that losing you is making it painful for Elmo to sit and try to compose Elmo’s thoughts.

Grief as Writer’s Block
Right — my grief, which I have been carrying like baggage that didn’t stow safely in the overhead compartment, is showing up as writer’s block. Because in the rare quiet moments when I’m not juggling kids or cases, I reach for the phone to call you to tell you about a kid or a case. I see your picture in my Favorites. I think about the times I’d call you to say thanks for watching the kids only to hear your dreadful HelloMOTO ringtone because you left your phone at my house. And now someone is asking me for a smoothie.

I think I prefer the metaphor to simile. 

Writer’s Block is Grief
That’s closer. Says what it is. Or like you used to say, Show me the car, show me the price. Maybe that’s enough. Mr. Rogers could never compete with Oscar the Grouch or Boris and Natasha in our house, but I can quote Sarah Silverman paraphrasing him: "If it's mentionable, it's manageable." 

After all, I’m not eccentric enough to have professional writer’s block like Fran Lebowitz. And I have written a few things. In each, you were either the text or subtext:

1. A message to our AirBnB host in London encouraging him to consider refunding us some pounds/quid before I wrote and posted my review. On our last night, the power went out in our flat, not for the first time, leaving us to pack in the dark, hope our phones had enough battery and volume to wake us up and head to Heathrow unshowered and uncaffeinated. 

Paul may have considered it but did not refund. I considered writing a review but thought you would have counseled me otherwise. (The rest of the trip was good, and not just like that line you loved about whether Mrs. Lincoln enjoyed the rest of the play.)

2. Your eulogy. I can now admit (to myself, among others) that I started writing about you when you were first diagnosed with cancer in 2022. In your final months, I felt more comfortable asking you questions and brought family artifacts to jog your memory. Then I put the necktie you wore at your wedding in the bag with my pen and it got covered in ink. That should count as writing, especially since I wore the tie to your funeral. 

I never wrote down most of my thoughts and I didn’t say most of what I wrote. I found my folded-up copy in the basement recently — you are quoted heavily throughout. At risk of quoting myself, I have returned often to the last line I wrote, maybe an hour before the funeral and moments before my prayer that the printer would print:

Dad was not “larger than life,” but our lives were larger because of him.

3. The story of how I split my pants hoisting Todd in the air during Jordyn’s wedding. (Spoiler alert.) You were there in spirit, observing with no judgment, that menswear is one of the few things in life where you get what you pay for. So much for all that hard-earned Kohl's Cash.

4. Phoebe’s bat mitzvah blessing. She had the stamina to talk about you in her speech — probably should have warned Mom — but I did not think her service was the right venue for me to ugly cry all over the Torah.

We could all feel your presence there. She wore your tallis. 

That afternoon, I could not find a razor in any of the boxes we had hastily packed before moving. I anticipated correctly that you would have a stockpile of Mach3’s in your drawer, even though I think you were always a Gillette Sensor Excel man at heart and thought the third blade was decadent.) When I got there, Sam was in your room shopping for a sport coat to suit the occasion. Your boys looked good! 

Okay, writer’s block is grief. It doesn’t follow that writing equals not-grief, but I feel better than I did when I sat down.

Thanks and Shabbat Shalom,