Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Casket ...

Dear Friends ... I am currently revising the entire text of In Memory of Ben. I am thinking of renaming the book Snapshots of My Son, In Memory of Ben. We are just 13 days from the 7th yahrzeit of Ben's passing. The other day, I was looking for a pair of shoes in my closet. The shoes I did not find, but I did find a picture of Ben I had not seen in a while. He was probably around 20 years old when the photo was taken, and it was an especially good one of Ben. It may sound saccharine, but I sure do miss him.

It is unlike anything else you have ever purchased. When I

saw the same casket at the recent funeral of a friend, I was

reminded of the morning at Weinstein Family Services when its staff

accompanied me and my wife through its casket showroom. I

wondered what it must be like to have to sell a casket to

bereaved parents.

We chose one characterized by the dignity of its simplicity.

Beautifully lacquered and adorned with a Magen David, it

seemed to reflect the kind of person Ben himself had been-

neither too plain nor ostentatious. There was a variety of more

expensive choices but only one other casket caught my

attention. It was nothing more than a plain unfinished box.

One grade lower than the one we chose, it looked like the

caskets the town undertaker crafted in the old westerns we

watched as children. Ben’s mom and I looked at each other. Not

quite enough we agreed for our beloved Benjamin.

Thanksgiving Day was unlike any other my family had

ever experienced, surreal, frenzied though with an inexplicable calm

that enabled us to complete the many urgent tasks I feared we would not finish

before the funeral on Friday morning. Our many

friends lent their helping hands in the time of our greatest need and

experienced an ingathering of souls. Everyone huddled

together in an effort to mend the irreparable tear in the fabric of our

lives and heal the wound we had all sustained just hours before.

The angelic reflections of our souls shone brilliantly.

We sat opposite the funeral director and, together with

several of our closest friends, made the awful arrangements

to lay our son in his final resting place. Our world had ended

catastrophically the day before on the eve of Thanksgiving

when Ben was fatally struck by a truck. He died two hours

later in the emergency room at Cook County Hospital.

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