Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dear Readers,

The following article is a revision of a chapter excerpted from In Memory of Ben and will be published in the November 1, 2007 edition of Living With Loss, Bereavement Publications

"Every Day is Thanksgiving"

While our nation celebrates Thanksgiving on the fourth

Thursday in November, as a Jew, I give thanks every

morning upon awakening by saying: “Modei ani lefanecha,

melech chai vekayam, shehechezarta bi nishmati b’chemla-

raba emunasecha – I gratefully thank You, O living and eternal

King, for You have returned my soul within me with

compassion … abundant is Your faithfulness.”

How does this observance of “Jewish Thanksgiving” differ

from that of our national holiday? The primary difference

is one that goes to the very core of Jewish religious belief: we

thank Him “yom yom- every day” by praising His name in good

times and bad.

Let’s be clear: I am not suggesting that Jews welcome

bad tidings. However, when they do happen, our faith in His

“rachomim and din-mercy and justice” encourages us to

remember that, though current circumstances appear dark

and foreboding, bad tidings do turn out for the best. We do

not, however, make any attempt to minimize the pain of


Almost two years ago on November 22, 2005, I received an email from my dear

friend Jan, who wrote:

Dear 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 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 embarrassment...not a failure on Ben's part, or yours. You only wanted what was 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.

I did not find anything Jan had said disagreeable. Her note revealed a keen

insight into the life of my late son Ben, alav ha shalom, and my efforts to

chronicle it. There was something troubling me though about the date of

the note, Tuesday, November 22, 2005, and Jan’s reference to

“today” in her opening sentence.

Later that evening, my fiancé and I were sharing a coffee.

“So how was your day?” she asked.

“Oh, okay I suppose,” I said, but before the conversation went

any further, it hit me. It finally made sense.

I realized that although the calendar date, Tuesday,

November 22, 2005, marked the fifth anniversary of my son’s

passing, it had been the week DAY, Wednesday, the day before

Thanksgiving that forever underscored the tragedy imprinted

on my heart.

In keeping with my belief about the presence of balance

and order in our world-though we may not perceive them

readily at times-our lives are not at the mercy of random

collisions of chance. You may even wonder about any

demonstrable proof I may have for this assertion. Well, I

haven’t any, but unlike the strict standards of scientific proof,

I submit the gift my daughter Kimberly shared with me that

same day.

I will never forget the excitement and glee in her voice. It

not only struck a welcome chord to complete this day, to

make the circle whole but reaffirmed my belief in how we give

thanks to the Master of The Universe who reawakens us every

morning to experience both good times and bad in our lives.

“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!”

“Kimmy Babe, that’s wonderful sweetheart. Mazel Tov.

I’m proud of you.” I rejoiced.

“Thanks Dad! Talk later, okay?” she ended.

That sums up, rather succinctly what happened on

November 22, 2005, when divine balance manifested itself

dramatically, affording me the opportunity to experience the

joy and love of both my children on what was the worst day

imaginable just five years before.

“Modei ani lefanecha …”

Alan Busch
Revised, 9/5/07


Marc Feldstein said...

Hi. Years ago, we both were members at Emanuel in the city and you also taught there. I was saddened to read the article by you in the JUF news about the death of Benjamin in 2000. I was also sorry to hear that you now have Parkinson's Disease. Please know that I am thinking of you and that I wanted to say hello.

Marc Feldstein
Now living in Grayslake
(847) 986-3198

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Marc,

I thank you for your time and kind words. Please do find an opportunity to read on. I appreciate your support and interest.


Alan D. Busch