Today weighs heavy on me. Six months ago today, my husband died, happening even on the same day of the week. My last Shabbat as a wife was Valentine’s Day. Somehow that seems … appropriate, in a weird way.
- 6 months is
- 182 days is
- 15,724,800 seconds is
- 262,080 minutes is
- 4368 hours is
- 182 days is
- 26 weeks is
- 49.73% of 2020 is
- Yesterday is
So I’m naturally a whirl of memories, about his death and the aftermath. I don’t think I ever shared with you anything about the memorial we had for him in June, once the Corona “shelter-in” had mostly passed. This six month “milestone” seemed like a good time to do that.
Thank you for listening.
Love, Vanessa ❤
The Rabbi asked my son if he would like to speak at his father’s memorial. I expected him to say, “No.” He’s just 18, and that’s a pretty overwhelming thing – for anyone, but especially for a young man. To my surprise he nodded and said, “Yeah, I think I would.”
The Rabbi and I encouraged him, strongly, to take notes on what he wanted to speak about. Every few days I’d ask if he’d written anything and he’d tell me he hadn’t. I didn’t want to nag, but this felt like too important an occasion to not prepare speech notes. At some point my son said to me, “I’m just going to wing-it, mom.” I didn’t want to add to any pressure so I decided to trust him and didn’t mention it again.
When it was time, he went to the mic and told a story.
He began [and I’m paraphrasing], “At the men’s retreat recently, we were talking about fathers and sons, and the way that fathers can sometimes wound their sons without meaning to, and how it can be hard for sons to overcome those wounds as they become men themselves. Everyone seemed to have a story and then it was my turn and I thought a lot about that, and realized … I don’t have any wounds from my dad. My dad was a great dad. We were friends, as well as father and son. He never wounded me. He just loved me.”
I could only weep. Is there a better epitaph a son could make for his father? I suspect most of us have a wound or scar from our parents, things and memories we struggle with, that can often impact our very identities. I also suspect most of us parents worry about the scars we may leave on our own children. I know my husband worried about that. He’d have been blown away if he could have heard our son say what he did at the memorial.
My daughter didn’t speak, but she did sing. She led a trio and sang “It Is Well With My Soul.” My husband would be so flipping proud of her! He’d be thrilled that she’s singing.
This was my contribution, which Mrs Rabbi graciously read for me. This was printed up for the bulletins.
From an email he sent to us a couple years ago:
”Good Morning, Ultrepically Ultrepic Ones!
I’m thankful to the Lord our God today (Adonai Eloheinu) for you, and the rich blessings you are to me. I’ve never known such joy, such love, so much wonder, as I have now that you’re all in my life. I have so many reasons to give thanks and praise to Yeshua and the Father and Ruach HaKodesh! Praise to the Most High God, blessed be His name! Glory, honor, power, dominion, and might are His forever and ever, amen!
And because of you, I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise! You fill me with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit every day, and I will never cease to be amazed by, and give thanks to Him for, you. All of you.”
I was asked, “Can you write a paragraph or two about your husband … ?”
My husband loved to write. He wrote books, blog posts, journals, and emails. Hundreds of emails. I must have read, literally, millions of his words. And over the last twenty years, we talked. All. The. Time. The two of us were never at a loss for words and we could while away hours chatting like magpies – from silly things to things of eternal import. I believe I knew him better than anyone else on the planet.
But my pen goes blank at the notion of writing a few words about my husband. My mind explodes with memories and they scatter to and fro and I can’t seem to catch one to focus on.
He loved to draw. He considered drawing almost part of his identity. All of his journals and notebooks are filled with little pictures scattered throughout.
He loved to laugh, and he loved making people laugh. He loved scaring people by sneaking up on them. As a writer, he was absolutely thrilled if someone said, “Oh, your book gave me nightmares!” The written form of a “scare-cam,” you see. That gave him near-endless giggles.
He adored his children and loved spending time with them. They could hang out for hours, just talking or playing games. He loved them for who they were and not just because they were his children.
And because of my husband, I finally understood what it felt like to be loved and wanted. He was my guy and I was his girl and that’s just how it was for us.
The Asperger’s made it hard for him to connect with people on a lot of levels, but I think in some ways, it also made it simpler for him to just be who he was. He didn’t know how to “fake it” with people. In many ways, he wore his heart on his sleeve.
He loved the Lord with all his heart. While he often struggled in his relationship with God, he only struggled, I believe, because he loved God so much. He wanted to be closer, to understand more, and those things can sometimes to be difficult to achieve on this side of the divide. I am confident he no longer sees through a glass darkly, but is now face to face with the One he loved most of all.
These are the songs that were played at the memorial. The 1st was a song my husband loved. He had me watch it with him sometime a year or two ago, and I fell in love with it, too. It just captured how we feel about our faith, about our relationship with God.
This song, if you don’t know the story of the man who wrote it, Spafford, you might be interested in checking it out. He wrote the words, actually, as a poem, at a major point of grief and sorrow in his life. Someone later put the words to music and now we have a classic hymn. I love how this guy did all the harmonies for it.
This last one, my husband and I heard it either while we were dating, or newly married. We both said this was one of our songs, a song that defined and described us.