Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dear Readers ...

I hope that you will take a minute or so to read the revised Chapter 14 of In Memory of Ben. I do always appreciate your time and interest. Please post your comments on the blog should you have any comments or questions.

It frequently happens that ‘children challenges’ exhaust parental reservoirs of common faith and shared strength, when something as simple as a hug might enable them to survive and overcome their common extremity by a painful moment becoming even the tiniest bit more bearable.

The Accident …

Within several weeks after surviving a near fatal traffic accident, Ben began feeling shortness of breath and chest pain. His posture was slouched over and his walk became labored. Diagnosed as a very severe pneumonia, there was no other treatment option than to undergo lung surgery. Coincident at a time in our marriage when Ben's mom and I had not had any contact with each other for months, had you seen me then, you would have understood why!

At that time, Ben's mom used to say that she could no longer recognize me nor frankly did I myself! Wanting to be perceived as an orthodox Jew, I began dressing in what I thought was the “standard uniform”: dark suit, white shirt, tie, a kippah
[1] and topped off by black fedora.

In actuality, had one probed beyond the garb, he would have discovered I was no one other than a pretender and ‘am haaretz’[2].

While laboring under the false presumption that if by changing my external appearance I could quicken my internal religious growth, I struggled to learn and live by the fundamentals of Jewish orthodoxy. I failed in the end.

A Unbridgeable Distance

Standing by his bedside where he lay recovering after his surgery, Ben's mom and I bore witness to his wrenching pain. Although he fought back mightily, his cries were heart piercing.

"Ben ... be strong, son! Even stronger!" I implored.

How awkward I felt saying these words to Ben as if he were not already doing that! How awful it is to see one's child in pain!Ben’s mom left the room. I found her in the family waiting lounge just steps away. Quietly weeping, she stood by the window just staring out. I wanted very much to comfort her, but I could not! I did not think she would have wanted me to touch her, to hug her! As she often said back then, I was no longer the same man whom she had once known and loved.
So there we were, the two of us, Ben's mom and dad, not ten feet away from each other, but it might well have been hundreds of miles … tragically unable to offer each other even the slightest comfort for our son’s suffering, our suffering: common but not shared!

[1] skullcap worn by observant Jewish men.
[2] An ignorant person, a ‘know-nothing!’

1 comment:

Jan said...

Dear Alan...I am so glad that you have accomplished what you set out to remember Ben, and to honor his memory. Thank you for sharing these precious memories. Losing Ben was probably one of the worst heartaches that you will ever endure. I only wish that there were words to say to make the hurt go never will, but maybe these words that you have written about Ben will help someone else's hurt. There is one thing that I know in my couldn't have loved Ben more than you loved him.