Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Chai Lifeline Event 2 of 2: Elie

Here are the remarks I delivered at today's event; Debbie's in the previous post. Again, I hope to share more feelings about this intense weekend tomorrow.

A year ago yesterday, I stood behind this podium in utter shock and bewilderment at the levaya of my son, Aaron, Aharon Elimelech Z’L, and began my hesped for him with the words “I’m not supposed to be here.” Now, a year and a day later, our family comes before you no less bereaved, no less forlorn, no less grief-stricken. Yet today one thing is different, today we are here for more than just to mourn an unbearable loss. Our focus today is not only on what was lost, but on what can be gained, our agenda not only one of memory, but also of hope.

Debbie and I have been told more times than we can count during this terrible year, and especially over the past couple of weeks, just how well we were doing, how much strength we had in the face of tragedy. To whatever degree that these appearances are accurate, we must show recognition and gratitude for the wonderful support we had from family and from dear friends who made themselves like family, and of course to Hashem who provided us with undreamed of gifts of endurance. But let no one here confuse composure with tranquility. For if nothing else, this year has taught us that the loss of a child is measured not just in broken hearts, but in shattered lives.

There’s a keen observation that I have often quoted during this surreal time: “If you lose a spouse, you're called a widow, or a widower. If you're a child and you lose your parents, then you're an orphan. But what's the word to describe a parent who loses a child? I guess that's just too horrible to even have a name.” Indeed, bereaved parents – and their remaining children – are in a place that quite literally defies verbal description. Every aspect of the lives they had before, and even the very people they used to be, are irrevocably changed. The most basic, mundane everyday activities become immense challenges. And if this is true for adults, how much more so is it true for children; if this is true for the simplest tasks, how much more so for the challenges of our Jewish educational system, which taxes even the top students to their limits, even under the best of circumstances

In the gemara berachos on which I made a siyum yesterday for Aaron’s yahrzeit, it states “luchos vishivrei luchos munachim ba-aron” – both the broken and intact luchos were placed in the ark. It occurred to me several weeks ago, at a shabbaton for bereaved parents, that all of us there had both luchos and shivrei luchos in our hearts – both those children that God has allowed us to retain, and those taken from us so soon. The best way truly respect the memory of the latter, is to take the best care we can of the former.

Today you’ll hear many good words about Aaron, learn of his accomplishments, his fine traits, his devotion to Torah. These tributes are entirely fitting and proper and of great comfort to his family. But as I said earlier, mere recollection of the child that was lost is only one part of the story. To truly memorialize Aaron, to truly honor what he stood for, we must also make provisions for the special needs of those children for whom the parental role has been allowed to remain in our hands

With the wonderful help and guidance of Chai Lifeline, today our family, our community, has the opportunity to build something positive on our shared tragedy. In this way, and with your support, Aaron will certainly continue to be a malitz yosher for us and for all of klal yisroel. Amen.

1 Comments:

At 5/8/06, 11:03 AM, Anonymous trn said...

I thought of you often over Shabbes, Elie, the yahrtzeit in mind.

May this next year be not as difficult and provide more comfort, and may you see much goodness come from the memorial fund.

 

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