Sunday, July 29, 2007

Weeping For Loves Lost ...

She said I had never grieved for Ben. Now what I think she may have meant is my

grief for my late son Ben hasn't come to an end, and to the extent that that is true I cannot get

on with the rest of my life. Now there is a problem or two with that point of view: first, let me

state unequivocally there is no end to grief; it is on-going and-as much a part of a bereaved

parent's eveyday life as heading off to work or tidying up the house. Grief becomes, in effect, a

constant in the equation of one's routine.

Closer to the truth of this matter is that I first mourned for our loss of Ben-bound by the

framework of Jewish law and custom- moved onto grief and have never stopped grieving for

him. Grieving for a lost child in not at all like thumbing through old photos that you put away

when you have had enough. No, it is an interminable process-actually over variable stretches of

time it becomes a presence, a part of oneself, a companion.

Memorializing that "presence" is entirely individualized. Each parent finds an appropriate

expression. I chose to write a book. It was something I needed to do.Now unless you don't

already know, this business of book writing is a protracted process; as a matter of fact, writing

mostly consists of rewriting and-as once defined by noted historian William Appleman Williams-

it is the art of applying the seat of one's pants to the seat of one's chair and remaining there until

you have something on paper. Searching for that precise word, that ever so elusive turn of

phrase that will clinch it for the reader-such strivings for that illusive "perfection" take time and

unfathomable amounts of patience.'

The stakes were and remain so high; at risk: my happiness, future, life itself. There were

times when I drove myself hard to finish a chapter, tweek a sentence, give voice to an

amorphous thought. And I know now that regretably too often I was driving myself too hard. It

is almost as if I had been promised a reunification of his body and soul were I to realize that my

son's story needed to be told and that I could do it- everything and more depended on it.

We each choose a "derech," a road, a way, a path. Yes, and one can reasonably expect there

will be detours, rough pavement and traffic snarls along the way. While livng with

loss, one mustn't forsake the living to memorialize the dead. There is, in fact, a time and

place for everything. My most difficult challenge has been to find the balance between my life

and remembering my son's life because we all know what happens when we lose our balance.

That's right ... and the getting up-you can be sure-is indeed painful.

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