Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some Days are Diamonds. Some Days are Stones.

Yesterday was a very hard day.  It's been a packed week, but yesterday was the most intense.

Our community lost a young, 25 year-old man who died trying to save someone else from drowning. This death, sudden and shocking, sits heavily in my belly.  We only met this young man once, back in the fall, when he joined his parents for a meal in our sukkah.  But this was probably the hardest funeral I have ever attended.

Funerals in Israel are much rawer than the often sanitized choreography of a Baltimore Jewish funeral. Limited seating often means most people stand.  In this case, there were so many hundreds of people that we stood outside the Beit Chesped, along with a couple of hundred other people who couldn't fit inside the main hall.  But we heard everything.

There were 7 or 8 speakers, all of whom painted a picture of an astonishingly kind and gentle soul.  Young men and women who knew him well were standing with red eyes, holding on to one another, seeking the strength to deal with this incomprehensible loss.

And after the speakers, the body was escorted to the burial site, wrapped simply in cloth and carried on a stretcher, not hidden in a decorative coffin.  This is real.  This is raw.  This is death.

The faces of the family members are burned in my brain.  White with grief.  Eyes that stare but do not see.

I can't shake it.  I can't stop thinking about it.  My neighbors buried their son yesterday and I am nauseous with the memory.

Directly from the funeral, we drove to the wedding of the son of other friends.  A huge, elegant wedding in a hall that was surprisingly tucked into a commercial district.  The chuppah, in the middle of the wedding hall, opened directly to the evening sky.


Many, many friends and acquaintances from the Old Country.  Gorgeous music.  Lots of food.  Lots of joyous simcha.  I cried there too.  The contrast was hard to hold.

We arrived home late and I was utterly spent.

Some days are diamonds.  Some days are stones.

And some days are both.

Thank you Tehillah for help with the image.

3 comments:

Batya said...

It's sounds rather mixed.
Israeli funerals, especially in small communities are amazing, large and warm.

The Sussmans b'Aretz said...

Thanks for sharing - what a difficult day you had. Funerals here, I have found, seem to embody so much of the differences between life in America and in Israel. It is so raw here...so much like our lives in Israel. Thanks for sharing...may we know only s'machot and may the family receive comfort from all of you with their unspeakable loss.

Rebecca said...

What a terrible tragedy. We're friends with Chaim, the guy who was saved. I'm so sorry for your pain, and I appreciate you sharing your feelings. Baruch Dayan HaEmet.