At certain moments in life, it may have appeared as if time stood still; imprinted with memories that felt permanently etched. Affixed.
While this feeling is comforting for happy milestones, it is an entirely different reality when painful memories – at times, unbearably so – become appendant. One such engraving is the anniversary (yarzheit) date of a loved one’s earthly passing; hovering, forever held in place. Frozen.
I’ll always see your face
The corner of your smile
And all the little things that no one will ever know
Like it was yesterday, won’t ever fade away
Goodbye is just a word that I will never say
You will never be forgotten
A million days could pass us by
But what is time but just a dream
Oh I still feel you here with me
You’re more than a memory
Oh you will never be forgotten….
Still yet, and despite all the painfully held sentiments, know that honoring a loved one is enhanced by celebrating their life well lived, rather than by remaining lost in grief and trapped in space and time.
In fact, over the past few years, a certain nearest and dearest (in his inimitably quiet and self-effacing way, and without even realizing it) can be credited with my evolution of thinking; my “coming to terms.” Many thanks for that, as well as for just being you….oh so special. Like father, like son.
And for what it’s worth, if there is one overriding piece of advice from my personal life journey (based upon lessons learned while navigating through the emotional minefields of profound loss), it is that there is hope for a better tomorrow, as cliché as it may sound.
More specifically, by recognizing that the grieving process for a much beloved spouse (or another) cannot be tied to an imposed timetable; that one’s children (even if already adult) experience grief differently than their surviving parent; and, when ready, a new partner should never be seen as a replacement for a late spouse who was entirely unique, only then can true healing begin to take shape. Step-by-step. All in all, moving forward is best accompanied by living life in a way which would make one’s dearly departed proud.
In my case, each professional endeavor must be conducted with the utmost integrity, and coupled with an unwavering pursuit of justice. Resolute and unintimidated. Equally important, to strive to embrace a sense of joyousness, that which is most enhanced with love. Indeed, the ethical, righteous, loving and joyful way in which my beloved, Frank, z”l, lived his life couldn’t help but be admired. Emulated.
Yes, he would want me to continue to shine. That is, to pursue the type of justice (“Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof…Justice, justice, shall you pursue”…צדק צדק תרדוף – Shoftim, Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9) which made him so proud when we were walking hand in hand. Similarly, he would want me to smile, to rejoice, and, once again, to entrust my heart.
Without a doubt, he is watching over those he considered his treasures. But above all else, Frank, z”l, will forever remain our family’s patriarch. This is so, not only for those closest to him, but for little ones who “know” him through priceless pictures and countless stories. They too feel – and acutely miss – his loving presence. The kiddies affectionately call him “Saba Frank”, often babbling on about him as if he hears them. Precious. Heart-stopping. He is certainly beaming (often imagining, in my mind’s eye, his trademark warm smile and twinkling eyes) down and reveling in the many life-affirming steps taken by his offspring since his untimely passing.
Tellingly, in one way or another, he is dearly missed. As a consummate romantic, the daily love and tenderness he displayed so freely as a husband will never be forgotten. Its effects run soul deep. At the same time, he was an unfailingly devoted father. A true role model and inspiration.
Tangibly speaking, as inferred, it was by shifting the focus off of the trauma of losing him so suddenly – and back onto the many cherished memories we shared as a couple – that the space and strength needed to create new moments in time evolved.
So as my long journey of grief comes full circle, it passes into one of healing. In honor of Frank, z”l – and this crossroad – specially scripted balloons await pick up; one for each year since G-d called him to heaven. They will ascend from Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the core and soul of Israel which captivated us to no end. Traveling upward – by the sheer act of releasing my hands – I have every confidence they will soar from my heart to his.
And it is in recognition of an invaluable gift, finally, that of peace of mind, first and foremost, I thank G-d. But it would be remiss of me not to include the few held especially close; those who have enabled me – in seen and unseen ways, and through very different roles they have in my life – to reach this pivotal juncture. You know who you are. With eternal gratitude and heartfelt love. Inestimably, Frank, z”l (who was more than one in a million), is surely thankful for all your devotion; that which helped to bring me from there to here.
Alas, it is with deep appreciation that I am standing strong, and looking forward to the next chapter with gratitude and an inner sense of calm. Yes, no doubt, he would want the love of his life to feel content and to live life to its fullest, as I would wish for him.
My beloved, Frank, z”l, rest in peace. Now and forever. You will never be forgotten, regardless of the passage of time and wherever life takes me.