Thursday, November 27, 2008

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Dear Friends,

Click on this link to listen to my interview on Israel National Radio by Tamar Yonah of the Tamar Yonah Show....

Thank you,

Alan Busch

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce that I received notice from the editor of Bereavement Publications, Living With Loss that my article "Musings of A Father ..." will be published in either the 2009 Summer or Fall edition of Living With Loss Magazine.

They say "timing is everything." Today, 11/22/08 and on the Hebrew calender the 24th of Heshvan-which this year fell out on the Jewish Sabbath-marked Ben's eighth yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death .... I learned after coming home from synagogue that my article had been accepted-an appropriate tribute to my son Benjamin whom I miss emormously ...

A father muses as the eighth anniversary of his son's death nears ...

For Ben’s sake whose life I love, may I merit the strength to live life free from bitterness, anger and cynicism. May you Son dwell on high, enough to look down from above the clouds and see us searching the heavens for your shadow.

I became misty in synagogue today while attending morning services. Rabbi had taken hold of the Torah scroll and chanted the “Kel Mole Rachamim”, a prayer that pleads for divine watchfulness over the souls of our loved ones in the “olam haba”, the world to come. While listening, I remembered that the twenty-fourth day of Heshvan, the Hebrew date of Ben’s death, is only two weeks away, and this year will mark the eighth anniversary of his passing.

When a Jew dies, his soul ascends. It makes “aliyah”, we say, to the higher plane of the world to come, floating like a feather caught up in the draft of God’s exhalation. A Jew of faith quietly utters “Baruch Dayan Ha Emes”-Blessed is the True Judge-upon learning of a death. It reflects his acceptance that God “runs the world”. For him it is an unalterable reality.

The “living” remain behind, struggling with our faith which, if heretofore untested, is likely not to be as strong as we think. Untested faith is like a first layer of clothing which, by itself, is inadequate to shield one against the cold wind of loss. We add layers of “protective insulation” to faith by prayer, the reading of psalms and the recitation of Kaddish. It’s not a panacea, however. The struggle to cope, to “make sense out of it all”, continues. The pain remains. By reinforcing our faith, we hope to manage the pain of grief more effectively.

The approach along the winding path to Ben’s grave fills me with dread.
I stand before his parcel of earth numbed by the irreversible reality of his death. It is a curiosity of human behavior that the bereaved speak to their departed ones while standing before their graves. I do it too although Ben remains silent. Even if the comfort we experience lasts but a moment, our nature compels us to reconnect through imagination.

“Ben, it’s been a while. I apologize, Son.”

“Oh, that’s okay, Dad. No problem,” he said, generously letting me off the hook.

“You know Ben … while standing here, I think back to some of my favorite moments and picture you as you were, as we used to be.”

“Like what? Oh, wait! I bet you’re thinking of the Radio Flyer red wagon when it was just me and Kimmy, right? Remember how she sat in front and I held on to her from behind,” he asked.

“Yea, I do ‘Member’ how I used to fix her hair like Pebbles on The Flintstones?” I reminisced.

“Yea, that was funny. You really liked dragging us around a lot, especially to the
library, didn’t you?”

“I sure did. I would seek out clumps of people on the way there who would tell me how beautiful my kids were. Then we’d read stories for an hour or so.”

Ben blushed.

“Listen Ben, I ‘gotta’ go. Talk again?”

“Sure, Dad.”

Sometimes you come away feeling better …

Leaving the cemetery, especially the first time, is a difficult step. After all, we
brought so much but leave with so little, nothing more than memories. Although we may “feel” the presence of our loved one, it is somehow never enough.

A Poem in Memory of Benjamin Eight Years Ago
Since we bid thee farewell eight years ago,
that bleak morning many tears did shed.
Into cavernous depths we lowered thee …
to souls long before art thou wed.

I want you to know I’ve lived as well …
as best I could … I have tried.
Nary a morn, noon or night has passed
couldn’t ever help myself but cried.

I've felt so bad all these years,
when your days of youth deprived
with sickness that stole so much of your strength
from our well that might otherwise have thrived.

Much like you, what could we do
when alone we left you to lie ...
Living our lives lest we stray
from our faith well worn and tried.

It is hard to explain these feelings I have
without you eight years I live.
As each day passes, I can’t but think
My life for yours I wouldst give.

Alan D. Busch

Sunday, November 16, 2008

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stories from shul ...

the day had been mediocre at best. i felt cold all day-no matter the heat was on, had taken my meds on schedule but still felt poorly. all in all, not a 5-star day.

i was to meet my wife at our favorite starbucks after minyan. had to drag myself, really could have convinced myself to stay home but i went and you know what?

I am exceedingly glad i did. yes, the weather was undesirable, i still felt cold, stiff. a tad off balance (pretty much par for the course for a middle-aged man with PD (oh! sorry ... parkinson's disease)

happily, we had a big crowd for minyan. rabbi louis taught from medrash tanchuma between mincha and maariv; a nice d'var Torah sprinkled with a few light-hearted remarks, pretty much par for the course for Reb Louis. this man has kept me going for nearly fifteen years with his friendship, his Torah and good humor.

we finished maariv; the guys were getting ready to leave. the customary handshakes, yasher koachs, you know the usual stuff. i was chatting with walter when comes up to me this man ...

"excuse me sir, are you alan busch?"

not to worry, my interlocutor was a yid from new york. we were in an orthodox shul in its beis medrash.what? i should worry?

"yes, i am."

" i just wanted to let you know i read your book. haven't been here for a year or so, but last time i picked up a copy, cried all the while i was reading. thank you for sharing these stories of your beloved son!"

"thank you, thank you very much, your kind words, i ..."

"as a parent, well i can't imagine it but your sensitivity, the way you wrote it, your language, rabbi was there too, " he said, pointing to Reb Louis.

"yes, my dearest friend."

well, i must tell you, this gentleman went on for another three minutes. i took his hand.

"i wasn't sure you'd be here, but i was hopeful. i'm in town for a few days. will you be here?"

"yom yom, " (every day) i responded genuinely touched by this kind man's generosity of praise.

and then ...

"my name is Benjamin."

my heart nearly flew out of my chest!

"well, thank you Ben," i couldn't restrain this enormous smile i felt overtaking my face. it had been such a crummy day.

"hey ... Ben, that right," he realized. "that was your son's name. i forgot and was trying to remember it."

"thank you Ben," i did not want the moment to end. i let go of his hand reluctantly. Ben turned to leave.

The "Aibishter" sends messengers. He really does, believe me. one of mine has been called "Benjamin" twice ...

"walter, you need a ride home?"

"sure," he responded. walter walks with a cane. i left shul with that same smile.

"see you tomorrow walter after minyan?" i asked."

"i'll try to make it," he said closing the car door. "oh," he said, reopening the door, "coffee tomorrow after shul?"

"it's a date," i gladly accepted. you see? i almost did not go to shul tonight, feeling poorly as i had been, but the "Aibishter" sent me a "refuah". Baruch Ha Shem! so who am i to complain?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where authors and readers come together!

Revision of my poem "For Zac", my son more precious than rubies ...

For Zac, My Younger Son and Youngest Child

“May He Become A Teacher"

I see him back then, as a boy I did teach,
I pray Son a human being I helped you become.
Remind us to reflect the divine spark in each
when the miscreance of others leaves us benumb.

Teary-eyed respite sighs, when on cloudy days I recall,
a boy whose freckled face I see crestfallen became ...
for plucking orange lilies off sun craning stems,
who boyishly felt neither remorse nor shame.

A lesson he learned from that day hence …
until forever arrives, may his days be long last.
What good endureth, what measure this hath,
if allowed to fade silently into our past?

Respect life all, from greatness to small,
guard this lesson's value pristine,
Tend your garden until like a school it becomes
when tomorrow’s children, of lilies they have seen.

Alan D. Busch