Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Every Day is Thanksgiving

Dear Readers ...

I have revisited this earlier post from a year ago and have made a few changes ...

The day before Thanksgiving, the Wednesday just prior .... is the day on which my son Benjamin Mathew passed into the Olam Haba ...

Please take a moment to read about him ... these words however inadequate from a grieving father for whom Thanksgiving is now bittersweet at best ...

As Americans we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. As a Jew, upon my awakening each morning, I remember to observe the Jewish “Thanksgiving” by saying:

“Modei ani lefanecha …” [1]

What makes Jewish Thanksgiving different from the fourth Thursday of November?

We give thanks …

“yom yom”

by praising His name in good times as well as bad even when and if tragedy befalls us.

However, our intent does not lie in welcoming bad tidings, but in acknowledging that the “bad” so often turns out for the “best” although the result may not be immediately apparent.

“Hodu la Adoshem ki tov, ki le’olam chasdo”[3]

I received an email from a dear friend who wrote:

Dear Alan...you are in my thoughts and prayers today. I know what you are thinking about, and that you are missing Ben. I remembered that it was five years ago...an eternity, but as if only yesterday, for you. He was a beautiful boy, who wanted so much to be his own man...and he was. How else could he have endured so much, and yet still, was willing to give so much of himself? The true measure of a man is to be able to love unconditionally...and he did...and you did, even though you may feel, in retrospect, that it took awhile for you to finally reach that stage. I said "may feel", and "finally", Alan, because I know that you ALWAYS loved Ben unconditionally. The times that you were embarrassed by some of the ways that Ben chose to express himself, were only that...an embarrassment...not a failure on Ben's part, or yours. You only wanted what as best for Ben...what you thought was best. That kind of love is the greatest gift that anyone can ever give or receive...and you and Ben gave that gift to each other.


Now … I admit to having been befuddled by the timing of the note, but as I was busy at work I let it go for later. Well, “later” arrived. While having coffee tonight my fiance asked me:

“So, how was your day?”

And then it hit me, the timing of the email. Today marked in fact the fifth year secular anniversary of my son’s passing on November 22, 2000 which fell out that year on the day before Thanksgiving.

That is how I remember that day … not by its date as much as by the tragic irony of a Thanksgiving marked by Ben’s death.

In keeping with my theme that there is balance in our lives and order in our world although they may quite often seem to be hidden and at the mercy of random collisions of chance, you may wonder about my proof.

Unlike a scientist’s proof whose reliability is dependent upon laboratory duplication, I can only offer up as “proof” what news I learned from my daughter Kimmy who called me today, the 22nd day of November, with an excitement and glee in her voice that struck a much sought after chord to complete this day, to round it out as it were, to make the circle whole.

“Daddy, I got a job as a lawyer in a downtown firm! I’ll have an office with a view from the 39th floor overlooking downtown. It’s just what I wanted!”

That I feel pretty much sums up what happened today-a day when divine balance and even-handedness manifested themselves very dramatically-when a bad day five years ago became a better day today.

[1] I give thanks to you …
[2] every day
[3] Give thanks to God because His kindness is eternal.

1 comment:

Bey said...

Alan, I thank you for sharing your beloved Ben with us so that we may witness him through your eyes. You have sparked a new found strength in my own struggle with grief. Tan pura pluma. Bendiciones` solore usted por dios. Sarai