Friday, December 22, 2006

Back To Work

In some ways, today was harder than my mother’s funeral.

Maybe because I wasn't 'on' and didn’t have any responsibility to the community coming to grieve.

Maybe because it was one more big loss after losing my mom.

I really lost it today.

My friend and fellow co-worker held me and said, she loved you. You were her project. I could not stop the tears. I knew I was her project. She would grab my arm and introduce me to people and say, she gets it. She understands. She knew I had a deep belief in social justice. When I only had a glimmer of what I thought was right, she said, yes, and here’s how to do it. I only hope to live up to her standards. I only hope to do half as much.

I had to take the shovel, at the grave, and put two shovels full of dirt- one with the shovel upside down to show my reluctance, as the rabbi explained, one to show our understanding of the end- and I could barely see what I was doing. I stopped and looked down at the very plain, pine coffin with a Star of David carved on top... my friend was in that box. Her death was very real in that moment.

So hard.

A friend leaned in and said to me, this tradition doesn't let you hide, does it?

No. It really doesn't. It makes you face your grief.

She's buried in the same cemetery as Fredrick Douglass. She's in good company.

Now I'm working on a story to send her kids to be read at Shiva tomorrow night... or Sunday. Or Monday. Three days. Shiva is usually five but true to my friend, she would say, enough already. Get back to work.

I will write something beautiful. And then I will get back to work.


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