Sunday, September 27, 2015
So Many Blessings to Remember in Sadness
I am sad! It’s okay to be sad. We buried both of my parents, the people with whom God cooperated to give me life, to bring my siblings and me into this world within five weeks, between mid-August and mid- September. In their lives well lived, they birthed a tiny dynasty of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and of course, the nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews; great-great-nieces and nephews and the teachings and the example of the lives they lived…. which will continue to sustain and guide us and all with whom we come into contact (with the help of Aunt Sandy, officially the only remaining matriarch of the family).
As I shared at my mom’s funeral service, she died on Parshat VaYelech, when Moshe/Moses begins by explaining to the children of Israel that he has lived his life, he is now 120 years old, not able to come and go like he did and that they will continue on without him. He will hand the reins of leadership over to Joshua and a new generation. His teachings will always be with the children of Israel and as we now know, so many generations later, the many children of children of children to come. So may it be with the memory of my parents and those of us in whom they instilled their teachings.
As I try to reconfigure my world, and think about what this means for myself and my siblings and cousins in terms of taking on those reins of leadership for our children, their children and generations to come, I realize how profoundly I am blessed. While the end of my mom’s and dad’s lives were quite difficult and challenging, I need to look past that and remember… Our son Brian and I were talking a few days ago and he asked how I think people appear in the next world after death, old or young or… My response was I think that they appear as the best that they became in their lives.
We are truly blessed indeed to have had my parents in our lives until this point, each of them dying at 91 (dad) and 92 (mom) when their bodies just had had enough. We are blessed with so many memories – funny ones, spiritual ones, family gathering stories, teachings from their own experiences, and so much more. We are blessed when we consider that these two people, with profound challenges in each of their lives, found each other and gave each other the gift of a live well lived together. I consider it a blessing that they are no longer suffering and are at peace, as Moshe must have been after his life. I know it’s a blessing that just because they are no longer physically with us, they are very much here still guiding us in so many ways. All we have to do is listen to our hearts. As the Rabbi who officiated said, they were together in life and now they have not even been separated by death. That too is a blessing.
At both funerals, all of us who spoke wove these beautiful tapestries of the meaning of their lives, the lessons of plowing through the challenges that confronted them, and the “take-away” of having been blessed to have them in our lives. I was struck at both ceremonies about what it means to truly leave a legacy and to make an impact on this world. I have already found myself thinking, “Mom you would find this funny” or “Dad, you would really enjoy this story.” Yes, they are still here within the beings they brought into this world and we will continue to be sure they are around our Shabbat table, in our Sukkah and present in each and every way possible as we continue this journey called life.
Strangely enough, in addition to these transitions in our lives, this is a very sobering time for all of us in our family as we have several friends and close people to us who are so ill. We all have these people so dear to us in our minds and are wishing them a Refuah Shelemah (full recovery). May their bodies heal, their spirits soar and the legacy they are building continue to have its impact.
As we begin the Chag/holiday of Sukkot, I constantly run the verse through my head of how God spreads the tent (the Sukkah) of peace and well-being over all of us. May it continue to be so.