I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.
I've been with the chevra kaddisha for a while, and there is very little that fazes me. I've seen a lot. And most of the time, I get down to work and do what I am there to do. It never becomes routine, and I never get used to seeing the pain that people suffer, but I can put my feelings aside while I get the job done.
Sometimes, though, I can see at first glance that it will be difficult, and for a minute, I get a feeling of dread. Only for a minute. The feeling quickly passes, as I start doing whatever needs to be done.
This time, I was prepared in advance. I knew it would be difficult. But I had no idea how difficult until I was there. I took one look, and I knew I couldn't do it.
I looked around at the women who were there with me. I was the most experienced of the group, and they were watching me and waiting for my direction. It was up to me to get them started, to tell them what needs to be done and how we were going to do it. They were counting on me.
"I can't do this," I told them. "I can't do it."
I saw the look in their eyes turn to panic. One woman removed her apron.
"It's impossible," she said. "She's just going to have to buried the way she is. There's nothing we can do."
I was tempted to agree. I felt so overwhelmed...I had no idea how to accomplish what needed to be done. I didn't know where to start. But I knew this was my responsibility.
"No," I said, sounding more confident than I felt. "We can do it. We have to do it. Let's get started."
Thinking about the whole process and the ultimate goal was daunting, but I could think about the first step. We could start with one step, and worry about the next step when that was done.
We could do it. One step at a time.
It's like life, kind of.
Sometimes I look at my life, and I'm overwhelmed. There are so many things I need to fix, so much to do, so much I want to be. I look at my role models, and I know that this is how I would like to be some day. But it's daunting. I don't know where to start. It's too hard. I just want to give up.
But I know I can do it. One step at a time.
This is a lesson of the Chanukah menorah. We light one small flame at a time, representing small steps, but we aspire to ultimately kindle all of the candles.
The ultimate goal may be drastic change, but it has to be accomplished taking one step at a time.