Naomi could see that something was bothering me, but she waited in silence for me to say something. The quiet finally became too much and I turned on the radio. Sensing my avoidance, Naomi turned down the volume.
“Would you stop at the river for me?” she asked.
“Yes. Any particular reason?”
“Tashlikh. On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, we pray near living water and cast our sins into the current.”
“How do you do that?” I asked, confused.
“We symbolically use bread,” she replied, pulling out a zip lock bag. “I filled this before we left home.”
“I’m sure the ducks love the big sinners then,” I laughed. Naomi gave me a quick smile, but I had already lost her to her reflections. We drove to the Louisville River Walk where Naomi could complete her Tashlikh. I could not imagine what sins she was tossing in the bread, because Naomi had been amazing this last year. She brought a full bag though.
“I brought half this bag for you,” she said smiling.
“Me? What did I do?” I knew she was joking, but then she also seemed serious.
“The things we cast on the water are anything we feel guilty for, Ruth. It helps to just let it go.” I took a handful of the bread from her and looked at the water. I tried to think of something I felt guilty for. Naomi began mumbling prayers I could not hear or understand. After each prayer she threw a tiny piece in the river.
I pondered a moment. Martha’s friend was a starting place. I never should have slammed her hand down at the store. The vengeful remarks at the bookstore were not my best hour either. I began to toss piece after piece as I realized how many fragments of guilt I had buried within me. When I first found out about the accident, I blamed Chili and almost began to hate him. I tossed another piece of bread. The way I snapped at the others when Naomi mentioned moving here deserved a piece of bread. With each small prayer and the accompanying morsel, the guilt I had pent up inside began to dissolve. It was cleansing to acknowledge what I did, feel sorrow for it, and toss it upon the waters. I started tearing the bread in half or I was going to need another loaf. Tears streamed from our faces as Naomi and I walked from the Ohio River back to the car.