Friday, October 12, 2007

Dear Readers,

The following is a revision of "Bais Shel Emes" excerpted from In Memory of Ben. I would ask my readers whom I appreciate and thank for their on-going readership to be aware today and tomorrow are Rosh Chodesh Marcheshvan during which we will commemorate the seventh Yahrzeit of Benjamin Z'L on Cheshvan 24 corresponding to the 5th of November.
Bais Shel Emes

I had been feeling down for several days, and I did not know why.

“Maybe I’ll feel better,” I muttered to myself. “After all, he’s not too

far away.” So, I decided to gather up a few cleaning supplies with

which to wipe down the headstone and set out to visit Ben.

Man does not know when the morning of his final awakening will

be. His days are finite. This he understands. Before November 22,

2000, I was aware my son’s days were numbered. I somehow knew this,

that his mazal would run out. Over the course of these seven years,

I have learned to live without him. Despite the unfairness of losing a child, I

believe He governs the universe with rachomim and din.

The approach to the grave along the winding path fills me with a

mixture of dread, anticipation and slight physical symptoms. I stand

before his parcel of earth both assured and numbed by the irreversible

reality of his death. It is a curiosity of human behavior that people talk

to their loved ones when standing before their graves. I do it too. I

mean there is only so much one can do. What else is there that can be done?

If only I could come closer.

You can’t “listen” because the other does not actually speak to you.

So, try listening to your imagination ...

“Ah, Ben. It’s been a while. I apologize,” I begin.

“Oh, that’s okay, Dad. No problem,” characteristically generous

in letting me off the hook.

“You know Ben … while standing here, I think of some of my favorite

moments to tell you and picture you as you, as we, were.

“Like what? Oh, wait! I bet you’re thinking of the Radio Flyer red

wagon, right?” thinking he had gotten the best of me. “Yea, I

remember that too. Kimmy sat in front of me and I held on to her

from behind,” he recalls appreciatively.

“Yea, that was good. ‘Member’ how I used to fix Kimmy’s hair like

Pebbles on The Flintstones?” I relished that reminiscence particularly.

“Yea, that was funny. You really liked

"dragging" us around a lot, didn’t ya?”

“I sure did. I would purposely seek out clumps of people who would

tell me how beautiful my kids were.” Ben blushed quietly.

“Listen Ben, I gotta go. Talk again?”

“Sure, Dad,” he replied agreeably.

It feels like you’ve hung up the phone. I do not linger much

longer. I tidy up the area around the headstone and read three

chapters from Sefer Tehilim.

It may seem macabre, but it comforts me to know where

Ben is and has gone. I’ll even venture a remark that may seem odd to some.

As strong a pull as it is to stand before Ben’s grave, I struggle at times to

sense his presence. Oh yes. I know his body is beneath my feet,

but that’s just it. Ben’s body remains, but his neshuma,

his soul, is elsewhere. Where it is, well … that’s anyone’s

guess; it’s in the Olam Haba, floating-as it were-like a feather

caught up in the draft of God’s exhalation-or somewhere in

shamayim waiting for another aliyah that’ll bring him closer to

God. But such is the paltriness of our conception, as if it were

possible to approach Him, The Infinite Holy One. For that

would imply physicality, finiteness of which He has none. Even

the “He of Him” implies a ring of closure around our

conception of what God is and where.

His body lies under the headstone: "Avrum ben Avrum v' Yehudit, Benjamin, son

of Alan and Janine.”

Therein lies the essence of the bais shel emes. For as long

as the body is alive-though temporal in time and being-the soul

dwells therein. When the body dies, the soul departs, and with that,

the spark of life flickers out. The body itself becomes cold. We then

return it to the dust from which God fashioned Adom Ha Rishon.

His death has diminished us. Bridging the chasm between us has

become my futile challenge.I leave the cemetery feeling empty, desolate …


October 12, 2007

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