Another Funeral- My Best Friend Is Gone Forever

I’ll remember September of 2007 as being a hard month. Two family friends died unexpectedly. One day they were here and the next they were gone. Their loss has weighed upon me. It is a reminder of just how tenuous our grip on life is. It is just one more sign that in a moment it can all be taken away.

Two years ago I came very close to being an example of what can happen. In one of those links you can see some of my thoughts about that day. Now when I think about I really feel lucky. If things would have transpired a bit differently I would have been seriously injured, if not killed. For a while afterwards I carried physical reminders of the accident. One of my knees hit the dashboard. They said it was just a bad bruise, but it seemed to take an awfully long time to heal. There are some other aches and pains that made their appearance that day and have yet to leave me. But enough about me.

This last funeral was heartbreaking. Some deaths are more tragic than others. In this case a parent, a sibling, and a spouse was taken far too early. On the off chance that someone stumbles onto this I am intentionally being vague about the identity of the deceased.

I have been to more funerals than I care to think about. I have seen parents bury children. I have seen children say goodbye to their parents, but I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a more heart wrenching goodbye from one spouse to another. The anguish of the surviving spouse was a terrible thing to see. We’re not supposed to be exposed to such raw emotion, the intimacy was not meant for us. The sobbing and wails of pain were not for our eyes, but the pain of the loss was so great that they didn’t care.

They collapsed at the graveside and clawed at the earth. If you didn’t know the couple you might think that this was a show, that it was ridiculous, a hysterical over reaction. But I did know them and I am here to say that they had that kind of love. They were best friends. They were lovers. They were something more than husband and wife.

Jewish mourning ritual includes shoveling some dirt on the grave of the deceased. For the third time in my life I was part of a funeral in which a group of us took care of filling in the grave in its entirety.

It was hot and it was hard work. It was hard because I could feel the eyes of the spouse and children upon me. I could feel them begging for mercy, that they should wake up from a bad dream. And with every shovelful we proved that it wasn’t a dream.

But we shoveled on. We couldn’t bring about a miracle. We couldn’t remove their pain, but we hoped that that our presence would help them begin to heal. And it was one more way to show our love and respect for the departed.

It was a hard day. September was a hard month. But I learned from it. Some of those lessons I keep to myself, but here is something that I’ll share with you. When I die I hope that I merit having people fill in my grave. I hope that I have made enough of a difference in the world around me that they give my family that one last gift.

Baruch Dayan Emet.

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14 Comments

  1. Jack's Shack October 10, 2007 at 5:45 am

    BWH,

    I appreciate it.

    Alan,

    Thank you.

  2. Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum October 10, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Dear Jack,

    A fine tribute!

    I remain,

    Very Sincerely yours,

    Alan D. Busch

  3. bigwhitehat October 7, 2007 at 5:13 am

    Jack, some stuff just sucks.

    I have been in your shoes far to much to think words or advice could help. Just know I care.

  4. Jack's Shack October 7, 2007 at 2:16 am

    Thank you all for your thoughts and concern. I very much appreciate it.

  5. Mark October 6, 2007 at 2:48 am

    Wow, I’ve been so enmeshed in my own issues I’ve completely spaced on commenting here.

    Sorry for your losses, Jack. It’s never easy, is it?

  6. Debbie October 5, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Death is very hard for those left behind. The only solace is that we hope those that leave us are in a better place, but it doesn’t make us miss them any less.

    September 2001 was a bad month/year for me. September 10 my father killed himself, because he could not live without my mother who had died the previous January. So my brother and I suffered her death, his death and the September 11 attacks.

    We were glad that my father, a WWII vet did not see September 11, another attack on American soil.

  7. BEAJ October 5, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    My condolences.

  8. miriam October 5, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    I am old enough to have lost several people–some of them before their time. You never stop feeling the loss, but it’s not so heartbreaking after a while.

  9. The Misanthrope October 5, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    It’s very difficult for me to put my arms around how someone can be here for years and then gone forever. It never gets any easier just harder to understand and figure out. Again, sorry for your loss and his family’s.

  10. mother in israel October 5, 2007 at 6:46 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.

  11. cruisin-mom October 5, 2007 at 2:02 am

    what a beautiful post, Jack. I’m sorry about the death of your friend, and for the pain his spouse and children now must endure.

  12. MizEllie October 4, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    I’m so sorry Jack. When someone who’s that special in our lives is gone, it leaves such an emptiness. His memory will continue to be a blessing every time you laugh over something that would have amused him, or live your life a little better because of the lessons you learned from him.

    Sending you a hug.

  13. American Interests October 4, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    So sorry to read of your friends passing. Your post made me stop, pause and reflect on my own mortality and then I thought of my wife and children.

    Your random thoughts do have meaning, much meaning! Thanks for sharing…

  14. Stacey October 4, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    How very sad and tragic. What a way to start the new year. Death…the saddest part of life. 🙁 May all who mourn be comforted.

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