As I write this, a friend’s parent is in hospice. Another has just had someone close to the family and to their young child die. And many people I do not know are in the same boat, stalked by sadness, fear, and mourning. There is something truly awful about being in this situation during a holiday as the rest of the world is celebrating. Forever after, that holiday can never be one of unalloyed joy.
Trust me on this. I know.
Both my parents died somewhat young, and both managed to die connected with a holiday. In my father’s case, his death was sudden and unexpected. In my mother’s case, she had been ill for years, but the crisis hit on the eve of a holiday. So my siblings and I spent that day and the next few days arguing with the hospital folks about keeping her pain controlled and not prolonging her life when there was no hope. The horror of her death stays with me, years later.
But that has not been the whole story of my life since then. It has been the usual life, filled with joy, work, sadness, and occasionally triumphs and failures.
So, let me extend to you who are in mourning or on the edge of mourning my thoughts and sincere well wishes for you. Cry your hearts out. Hug one another. And have courage and hope for the future. My best wishes for a good new year.
Yesh Kochavim (There are Stars)
by Hannah Senesh
There are stars whose light reaches earth
Only as they themselves are lost and are no more.
There are people whose radiance illumines their memories
When they themselves are no longer in our midst.
These lights that cause the darkest night to shine
They – THEY light the way for humanity.
Her words were put to music. You can hear the tune here in its original Hebrew and then in English in a more or less operatic version. You can hear the first of a more folk version here via cdbaby by Kol Bseder.