Finding myself in the Middle East

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Just ride it. Like a wave, they say.

I think it's also like a contraction. When the sadness comes, I need to breathe through it. It comes out of nowhere, this pain and loss I feel for a man that I have not even been able to communicate with properly in years.

He was a tzaddik, I tell people. And my siblings even got a little silly by the shiva, laughing and teasing and I join in to raised eyebrows from those who came to comfort us. Because part of us is relieved. He was suffering so much for so long. And because part of us had lost him a very long time ago.

Until the contraction comes, and the strengh of it shocks me, rocks me. This grief, it's strange. I feel less, I feel diminished in its wake. And I need to affirm to myself that he is not really gone, because of all the lives he has touched.

What can I say about a man who died too young?

That he was gentle. That he was kind. That I remember him as big and strong; that I loved him and that he loved me.

We had so many people who called him Abba by his levaya that one could get confused over who exactly were his biological children and who was a child to him, anyway.

He was a man who lived the last twenty years of his life in constant pain, constantly readjusting to new harsh realities, and the first thing that people call to mind when they think of him is his beautiful smile.

At the end, all he cared about was his family, friends, and the torah. At the end, he was lying in his hospital bed. He could do nothing; not blink, not even breathe on his own. And I kept thinking that this was was the most complete and perfect man I had ever known.

It's a wave, this grief. It's a contraction. I'm riding it, thinking of the most perfect man I have ever had the privelege to know and love.

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