December 06, 2005

Well, I guess its true

His obituary appeared today. I can't pretend that it was a mistake anymore. Because I conduct this blog behind a thin gauze curtain of anonymity, I cannot publish his obituary here. I'd like to. They do obits for prominent people in advance, did you know that? So that when there is a death, they can just run it after some quick updating. I read his today and learned some things about him that I never knew:

*Once CEO of a NY Stock Exchange traded corporation.

*Once National Conference of Christians and Jews Man of the Year.

*Once a recognized expert in New York City real estate law and regulations.

All that came as a surprise to me. You would never have known these things if you had spoken to him. He wasn't humble but he had the kind of deep inner self confidence that did not require a recitation of accomplishments in order to assure the listener of his place in the cosmos.

I am bereft.

I attended synagogue yesterday and today at lunch time for the afternoon service to recite the mourner's kaddish. The first day was too weird -- it was among the Lubuvitchers (spelling?) in mid-town. Didn't enjoy it all. Today I went to the Garment District Congregation, over on 7th Ave and 40th. I recited the kaddish and broke down in the middle, forcing myself through the ancient cadence as the words washed over me, as the congregation recited it with me. I knew no one in the room, other than my father. There, surrounded by strangers, I said the formal mourning prayer.

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

You may find this explanation interesting, assuming you read the translation from the Hebrew. Because if you did, you would have noticed that there is no mention of death, just of peace.

Having read the translation of the Kaddish Prayer, one should realize that, although Jewish Law requires that the Kaddish be recited during the first eleven months following the death of a loved one by prescribed mourners, and on each anniversary of the death (the "Yahrtzeit"), and by custom in the State of Israel by all Jews on the Tenth of Tevet ("Yom HaKaddish HaKlali'), there is no reference, no word even, about death in the prayer!

The theme of Kaddish is, rather, the Greatness of G-d, Who conducts the entire universe, and especially his most favored creature, each individual human being, with careful supervision. In this prayer, we also pray for peace - from apparently the only One Who can guarantee it - peace between nations, peace between individuals, and peace of mind.

Paradoxically, this is, in fact, the only true comfort in the case of the loss of a loved one. That is, to be able to view the passing of the beloved individual from the perspective that that person's soul was gathered in, so to speak, by the One Who had provided it in the first place.

As Beruriah, the great wife of Rabbi Meir, consoled her husband, upon the death of their two sons, with words to this effect, "A soul is comparable to an object which was given to us - to each individual, to his or her parents and loved ones, to guard and watch over for a limited time. When the time comes for the object to be returned to its rightful owner, should we not be willing to return it? With regard to our sons, let us therefore consider the matter as 'The L-rd gave, and the L-rd took back, may the Name of the L-rd be Blessed!' "


I hope, now that his soul has been taken from me, that there is someone else who is caring for it. That concept is somewhat comforting.

Thank you all for the comments you've left. They've helped more than I would have thought possible, actually. And for those of you who have sent me emails, I am very touched. I had not intended to leave comments on for the last post. I haven't had any comments on for any of the posts about my grandfather but I am glad I was too distracted to remember to shut them off. So, I'll leave them on now, too.

Tomorrow is the funeral. We start to sit shiva after the funeral. I may not be posting for the next couple of days. Or I may post compusively as I try to write through my grief. I'm scared about tomorrow. I'm afraid I will melt away. I am barely keeping it together now. On the other hand, maybe it will come as a relief.

Either way, tomorrow will be a very cold day for a burial. Seems fitting.

Posted by Random Penseur at December 6, 2005 03:34 PM | TrackBack

*quietly stands next to you*

Posted by: sn at December 6, 2005 08:37 PM

It is good to unload your thoughts here..

There's such a wide range of emotions running through you that this releases the more obvious ones- At least for me- It seems to leave room for the more subtle ones.

Be strong.

Posted by: Rob at December 6, 2005 09:11 PM

RP - I am saying Kadish for your grandfather.

BTW - "Lub-a-vitcher".

I am so sorry for your loss.

As ever, you know where your friends are if you need us. All of us.

Posted by: Mark at December 6, 2005 11:38 PM

*sending thoughts up for him*

Posted by: Oddybobo at December 7, 2005 11:33 AM

I think you'd probably be suprised at the multitude of those coming forward to care for your beloved grandfather's soul.

I'm standing with you, as well, my dear.

Posted by: Margi at December 7, 2005 01:59 PM

My last comment didn't go through for some reason but I'm here, just so you know. And I don't like funerals either; I find them scary too. But sometimes after I get there, it's better than I had hoped for. I wish that for you. {{{{{hugs}}}}

Thinking of you and yours today, RP.

Posted by: Amber at December 7, 2005 04:16 PM

My 80-something year-old step-grandfather died a few years ago. He was such a cheerful, generous and welcoming man that it only seemed natural that his wake was one of the noisiest quasi-celebrations I'd ever attended.

I hope you'll be surprised at how blessed, rather than sad, that you feel for having had him in your life for all these years.

The living is in the doing it, not the having done it. Just think of his journey and how he lived it, not that it's ended. He can't mourn his own passing and (--just based on what you've written about that all this was his choice --) I'll bet he'd wish you couldn't either. Even today -- so soon after -- I think he'd want you to think of him and smile. Not to dwell on a future without him but to remember the time with him... His time. Your (plural) time.

rhetoric rhetoric rhetoric...

Aww, you'll be fine. And if a feeling of emptiness comes then just look at the Viking Bride and her bellyful of future. :)

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 7, 2005 10:47 PM

I feel for you and your family, RP!
During the past three years, I've lost my father and my two paternal granparents. The grief continues to hit me in waves, sometimes really hard. But the initial emptiness I felt has (for the most part) been replaced by gratitude to have been blessed with such close relationships to such remarkable people. I find comfort in the thought that they continue to live on within me, guiding my decisions. I miss them terribly of course, but find strength when I imagine that what I choose to do and how I choose to be would make them proud.
Stor klem fra Elise

Posted by: Elise at December 11, 2005 07:14 AM

Mate I'm very sorry to hear this and wish you a long life.

Posted by: Simon at December 13, 2005 02:04 AM
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