Sunday, December 16, 2007

Postscript to Snapshots In Memory of Ben

"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

one's routine.

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.

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