“Have I told you lately that I love you? Have I told you there’s no one else above you?” ( From the Song of the same name.)
When I first became senior Rabbi of the Temple in 1996, I had several advisors. One I argued with constantly. Thank G-d it got better, over the years, but then, at one Board Meeting this board member and I really began to argue like old times.
Two days later he went into a coma and died. I feel bad to this day that my last dealings with him were argumentative.
A recent event in the Temple family reminded me of another somewhat similar event. A fellow teacher who was teaching a special Autistic after school program at Temple several years ago called me in terrible hysteria and told me that her husband upon leaving their home on the way to work was killed in an automobile accident. If that wasn’t bad enough, she told me that the last words her daughter had spoken to her father were angry words in the midst of an argument. The girl was beside herself. How could she live with the idea that her last words to her father were angry and demeaning and so full of venom?
Just recently these two past events came hurtling back to me.
A Temple member has lost a child due to the suddenness of an automobile crash. As she put it, “By the time I got to the hospital, he was brain dead, his heart was being kept alive by a machine. I never got a chance to say good-bye.”
This Temple member’s grief goes way beyond mine and my teacher friend’s daughter. It is the grief of the loss of a child. When you create a child you are acting out the highest form of Imitatio Dei, imitating G-d. When I heard the news from this parent, I could not wait to hug Joshua and, you know, if the children were nearby Mina would have gotten into the car and gone to them. Alas, Cleveland is far! But sending love while not the same, will have to do.
Our tradition teaches, G-d mourns the loss of even the gourd (Jonah 4) which G-d has created.
Can we do any less? Of course not. But let us go beyond our own physical creations to those whom we have a spiritual connection. The people we worship with, play with and interact with. We must mourn the loss of even a moment of joy with those we care for.
While we have not created their life, we have created a life for them. How can we make their life bitter for even an instant?
What would our lives be like without them? My friend, our Temple member and her family, now have a great void in their lives. Some will say that the loss, of a friend, a buddy, a pal is less deep than that of a spouse. But, while the loss of a child is the most painful that one can endure, I have seen it twice in my own family, all other losses can be as painful.
So as this is the month of Heshvan with no holidays other than Shabbat, let us create celebrations when we can. Joy, making the simple day more lovingly intricate by adding happy feelings to the fabric of our relationships with others and by removing those actions which leech the rich tapestry of feelings of love from each other.
Let’s make this our first prayer of the Heshvon Celebration Religious Service:
“Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there’s no one else above you?
You fill my life with laughter, somehow you make it better
You Ease my troubles, that’s what you do
There’s a love less defined
And its yours and its mine.”
Each day find someone precious to you and chant these words, all or part. Do it! The rewards of unsolicited Love are great.
Take away the sadness of would’ve and could’ve
And replace it with love and spiritual caresses!
Rabbi Hillel said it best, “If not now, when?”
Do it for Love, now, do not hesitate!