Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to announce that my poem From Your Room will appear in the 2007 summer edition of Living With Loss. Featured in the same edition will be my article Musings of A Bereft Father Six Years Later.

From Your Room
By Alan D. Busch

From your room, Ben,
On this sixth year’s eve
I write these words
alone I grieve.

From your room, Ben,
never, to let go.
Where we wrestled in morning’s darkness
the merciless diabetic and epileptic foe.

Where by your bedside
I sat many the night
afraid to leave you
lest return it might.

Be sure Ben to remember,
neither doubt nor need,
our love for you was always agreed.

So, accept these few words,
your blue eyes to see ...
o’er these six years,
mournful without thee.
Musings of a Bereft Father Six Years Later

“Why the death of a child?”

How should we respond when all that we have is the language of prose and poetry? Our memory’s perspective narrows as the years pass. Awaiting us is a grave danger …
We each grieve differently when a child dies. Citing this truism to a recently bereaved mother, she responded to me angrily as if to ask:
“Is that the very best you can do?”
Now, I disclaim professional expertise in matters of death, dying and grief management. On the contrary, together with other bereft parents, our only common relevant credential is membership in the club to which nobody wishes to belong.
I became bereaved on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 when my son Ben died.
It is a wonder how well most parents hold up in the aftermath of their tragedies and successfully recast their lives into stronger, more productive and creative shapes. By infusing pathos into love and loss, bereaved parents have even authored chronicles of their tragedies
By reading these works, we discern meaning in our children’s lives while healing ourselves.
Still … despite all we did, our unconditional love, our willing sacrifices, we could not save them.
Though we must return their bodies to the dust, we commit ourselves to sustain the lives of their spirits, of their souls if you like.
It’s somehow right and fair, isn’t it?
And it is for this reason that we build shrines to their memories.
Six Years Ago
I wonder if I will glimpse Ben’s face after the passing of 2,190 days?

A memorial leaf appears on the Etz Chaim in my synagogue.

It reads:

“In Memory Of Benjamin Busch
Whose Good Deeds, Kind
Nature & Gentle Manner
Will Forever Be An Inspiration To Us”

Though it may seem paradoxical …

“Why do we affix a memorial leaf to a Tree of Life?”

Though the leaf serves as a poignant reminder of the end of Ben’s life, its purpose is to remind us to celebrate the time of his life-no matter that it ended prematurely, abruptly and painfully!

Eternally optimistic, even in the darkest moments, we say …


each time we lift a glass together whether it be in remembrance or celebration.

Jewish custom holds that a mourner recite the Mourner’s Kaddish[2] when, following the burial of his loved one, he is most vulnerable. Neither a lamentation nor a dirge, the Kaddish is a reaffirmation of life that makes no mention of death whatsoever.

At such time when the immediacy of death is still near enough to be overwhelming, one may choose to renounce his faith. Though perhaps understandable, our tradition regards this as a misguided approach to grief.

Still the very worst part remains the deposition of the attending paramedic that Ben was both conscious and able to speak for a brief while before finally losing consciousness forever, and that he understood what had happened while he suffered horrendous pain and bespoke his fear that he was dying.

As Ben’s dad, the certain knowledge that my son’s last waking moments were consumed by such trauma and fear leaves me cold and quiet, my thoughts inchoate …

As a Jew, I am thankful my faith is one of eternal optimism and teaches us that life is inherently miraculous and, therefore, holy.

We serve as guardians of its sanctity.

This belief sustains me when all that tangibly remains are a dress shirt and suit, a pair of old boots, a bicycle badly in need of repair and the unexpected discovery of his boyish signature while turning the page of a scrapbook.
The loneliness of grief overwhelms the solitude of my Sunday morning.
The absolute eternity of a child’s death leaves one feeling so insignificant, so powerlessly tiny. To have to navigate these treacherous waters daily is no simple task as we are invariably reminded how vast is God’s ocean while we remain adrift in such a small boat.

The only antidote to the pain of our loss lies in the tenacity with which we remember our children. It is incumbent upon us that we refuse to allow their memories to die.
Though their bodies are gone, their physicality ended, our linkage to them becomes one of remembrance, dedication and rededication, all of which remind us how fortunate we were to have enjoyed our time with them for as long as we did.
[1] To Life
[2] A declaration that sanctifies the Name of God.

1 comment:

Regina Clare Jane said...

Dear Alan- thank you so much for visiting me the other day. I am so happy that you are still sharing your love of Ben with all of us- he must have been a wonderful boy.
Yes, I lost my dad in Sept.- it was so painful for all of us, but for me, well, it has been such a difficult time. I spent so much of the last half year with him and I am grateful for that time. I love my dad and his picture watches over me as I type this...
I now know what all this grieving means.
Take care, Alan... and I love the poem you wrote. I have been writing lots about my dad...