Thursday, December 23, 2010

Death and After


We went to our first Temple Micah funeral today.   The sanctuary was packed with people who had known Richard in some capacity over the years.  His wife of 53 years was there with their children and grandchildren.  Although Esther hadn't known them well, she had pieced together enough information to give everyone a realistic characterization of the deceased man.  She read things written by his various family members.  She included this fitting poem from John Updike, specifically because Richard was a witty guy who liked to make people laugh:

Perfection Wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market --
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.

We've just come from the first Shiva service, where friends and family join to mourn their common loss. It's like a warm-up to grieving, the process that will officially last a year, but which may in fact last a lifetime.

2 Comments:

Blogger Pauline said...

I think there are times when grieving lasts a lifetime although the intensity lessens. We're lucky if we can find ways to let go of the intense sadness that missing someone engenders and let it evolve into something more manageable. A friend who recently passed away said he wasn't as sad about leaving the rest of us behind (he said eventually we would follow him) as he was happy at the prospect of seeing those who went on ahead. He was firm in his belief that eventually we would all see each other again. I sure hope he's right...

6:58 AM  
Blogger e said...

I hope the widow and family will continue to get support as they need it...One of the things I appreciate in Judaism is that mourning is a shared experience.

9:40 PM  

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