Only Heaven Knows

The rain was relentless. It poured down and pelted the mourners that encircled the tent under which sat the grief-stricken family and close friends. The thunder made it difficult to hear the rabbi’s brave attempt to offer words of consolation. Ruth, a gentle loving soul and friend to all, was gone. It seemed as though the weeping — ours and the heavens’ — would never end. 

I was wet; soaked through despite my large umbrella. My shoes sank into the saturated grass. My black dress belied streaks of mud from wiping my hands after my turn at shoveling, I didn’t care. My heart was heavy with sadness. Because even as we were saying goodbye to our friend Ruth, my own great-aunt was being flown from Florida to be buried in Boston.  

I stared off into the distance through my tear-rimmed eyes, scanning the surroundings for my own nearby plot. I made a mental note that I probably should pick out a coffin and grave marker. And, I need to redraft my wills. And, it was time to make my annual donation to the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts. 

It’s the Hebrew month of Elul and the High Holy Days are rapidly approaching. The Yom Kippur liturgy of “who shall live and who shall die” in the coming year is looming ominously in the air. My Aunt Debbie died in December after being diagnosed just a year ago with a tumor. I’ve reached an age where so many I’ve known have passed away, I can’t even count them all. 

When, I wonder, will I be put to rest? At almost fifty-six, do I only have days left or another forty-plus years? Regardless, I know I must make each moment count. And, when it is my turn, I pray I die in my sleep. 

Ruth and Aunt Sabina, may your memories be for a blessing.  

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