"Weeping For Loves Lost"
She said I had never grieved for Ben. Now what I think she
may have meant but did not know is my grief for my son 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 interminable and as much a part of a bereaved
parent's everyday life as heading off to work or tidying up the
house. Grief becomes, in effect, a constant in the equation of
I first mourned our loss of Ben bound by the framework of Jewish law and
custom. I moved onto grief thereafter where I remain.
Grieving for a lost child in not at all like thumbing
through old photos that you put away when you have had
enough. An interminable process, grieving becomes a presence, a part of
oneself, a companion. How each bereaved parent memorializes that presence
is entirely individualized.
I chose to write a book, something, I felt, I needed to do.
Now unless you don't already know, this business of book writing is a protracted
process and, as a matter of fact, consists mostly of
rewriting. Historian William Appleman Williams defined it as 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 high.
My happiness, future, life itself at risk. There were times when I drove myself hard to
finish a chapter, tweak a sentence, give voice to an
amorphous thought. And I know now that regrettably too often
I was driving myself too hard. It is almost as if I had made a pact with the "maloch ha maves"
promising me a reunification of his body and soul if only I could tell my son's story.
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 living 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 strike a balance between living my life
and recalling my son's.
We all know what happens when we lose our balance. That's right ... and
the getting up, you can be sure, is painful indeed.