The Wedding Dress Part II

Dear Mom:

First, I never thought I would get married.  Second, I never thought that if I ever did get married, it would be without you.  I will be 48 (52 if you’ve read my other blog entries) at the wedding, so what did I expect? You ask.  You’re right.  But I am your last born, the baby of the family.  I expected that you would live until, I don’t know, forever.

I know you are hovering in Heaven, but, right now, that is not good enough.  And I am a conscientious objector when it comes to G-d but, because your soul cannot have dissipated into nothingness and because POB (partner of blogger) and I found each other, I hold out some specter of belief in some divinity in a world that is otherwise in decline.  So, it is big that I believe, and this belief thing is, how they say these days, “on you”.

As an aside, does this Jewish guilt work on the other side?  Am I wasting my time here?  Drop a lightening bolt if guilt doesn’t matter in the hereafter.  I won’t tell anyone.  I promise.

So, I couldn’t call you when POB and I found the dresses.  (Did you register any guilt feeling? Ok, I drop the question.)  You would have been so excited about it (and relieved that we didn’t make you schlep to SoHo).  You would ask about the wedding plans and then let your preferences be known in a velvet fist way that sounded soothing yet non-negotiable.  Confrontational and gentle all at the same time.  You should have been Secretary of State.

Thank G-d DOB (Dad of blogger)is healthy (for a 91 year-old) and seems like he will be there, G-d willing.  (There I go again, with the G-d thing.  I might lose my objector status, if this keeps up, so really let me know if guilt works up there.)

Speaking of DOB, I spent Sunday morning trying, in vain, to reconnect him to his email and the internet.  SOS (our son, source of sanity) came with me on this mission of uselessness.  I got DOB all reconnected and did a learning-by-doing tutorial that I custom-tailored for him.  I did that tutorial more times than I can to tell.  Nothing.  NADA.  He can play Free Cell and access his list of  of charitable contributions without assistance.  But, when it comes to the Internet, he can’t really type, he can’t really see the screen and he can’t really understand how to read and send emails.  Still, he is righteously indignant that he doesn’t have much personal email in his inbox.  SOS tried really hard to understand why DOB didn’t really understand computers, the internet or, quite frankly, the 21st century.  Imagine if I listened to BOB (brother of blogger) and tried to get DOB on Facebook.  Neither DOB or I would have survived the attempt.

But I digress.  Back to me. I mean you.  I really mean you and me.

It is crazy how something as anti-feminist as parents walking their child down the aisle seems so quaint and wonderful now.  If only we could hold hands as you walked me down the aisle.  Yes, life has dulled some of my sharp edges and quieted my doctrinaire ways.  Because life, love and loss are complicated and our responses to them are idiosyncratic.

But what is simple is that I wish you were here to celebrate with us.

Really, come visit in my dreams and tell me about guilt in Heaven.  It is the least you could do after having left us almost 9 years ago.  (Did that rate on the Heavenly Guilt-o-Meter? Just asking.  No offense intended.)



The most universal of tragedies

Life is a journey.  From birth to inescapable, uncheatable, death.  We accept this cycle of life and the orderly progression from youth to elderly to . . . nothingness or life everlasting, depending on one’s view and religion.

But what breaks a person’s (my) heart is knowing — however tangentially — parents who must bury their children, and grandparents unable to comprehend or comfort their own grieving children.  Since the 1950s, the death of a child breaks social and religious compacts, both having evolved from greater longevity and higher standards of living.  Not long ago, parents buried children in this country all too often.  Still, as a parent, I cannot imagine the pain and grief of those parents, just as I cannot imagine the pain and grief of parents of a girl recently found dead in her dorm room at college.

A life and future snuffed out and a family in tatters.  And, depending on the cause of death, other young lives guilty for not preventing the loss or complicit in causing the loss.  I look back on my college years and wonder how I survived the colossally stupid things I did.  I think about the way I cavalierly put my life and limb at risk in crazy, drunken escapades in the snowy mountains of New Hampshire. And, yet, I survived.  Why?

There is no rhyme or reason to who lives and who dies, who is born into riches and who is mired in poverty and who is blessed and who cursed.  Yes, biblical and epic struggles between humans and G-d are unleashed again in times of gut-wrenching sadness.

It is part of the human condition, I believe, to become inured to the death tolls in far-away Iraq and the famine in parts of far-away Africa, but be heart-sick at the death of a child barely considered “kin”.  Maybe because I am a parent.  Maybe because it didn’t happen in a faraway place or under circumstances outside my experiences.  Maybe because in the America of my hopes and dreams — and those of my parents and grandparents — things like this don’t happen.  The “shining beacon to the world” (if that is still true) is a little dimmed by each such senseless death.

There are many riffs on this — political, sociological, religious — but the fact remains that a young life is lost.  And that is just too much.  And, maybe we ought to think about every life this way.  But for right now, I am thinking locally not globally.

I only hope that the family of this young girl find some form of peace in their lifetimes.