I watched my friend stand beside her son yesterday. Tears dragging the inexpressible grief down her drawn face as she bent her head, too heavy with loss to hold up without the chest of her beloved of over half a century. I watched her shake with sobs so deep her very soul wailed in wrenching silence. I watched her let friends say what they felt and nod in appreciation for their love, and yet, surrounded by the love and warmth of family and friends, I watched my friend stand alone beside the body of the one she had carried under her heart and birthed and nurtured and taught and consoled and comforted.
I saw my friend stand beside his son yesterday. Tall yet small, straight yet stooped. Unshaven, red eyed gracious to a fault. I saw him pray and say the ancient words,
Yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba…
May His Great Name grow exalted and sanctified….
“I must be philosophical,” he told me the night before he read the words that draped the crowded room of stories of a man who loved life and living and growing and giving. A man who was passionate about learning and teaching and sharing his heart and his mind. A man who could still laugh when illness stole all his remaining strength. A man who carried his father’s name and who gave this name to his beautiful daughter. A man who took flight before his parents and yet remains so present, so real, so here and so now.
I saw myself standing beside my friends yesterday. Not able to find the words that offered enough comfort. For comfort only comes when the time is right. I stood beside my friends yesterday. Their beloved son passed from this physical world, from life to life. And even though death is only the end of the shell from where we shine our light for a few short moments and even though I know he could still see all that was happening and hear all that was being said and feel all the love that was overflowing from hearts and minds and all the spaces in between those who have ever known him, the grief, the painful, aching, dreadful grief, drenched in tears and memories and emptiness, envelopes and surrounds and hugs us close.