LOSS

I am aware of a congenital medical condition in which doctors discover that a person, of any age, has a hole in their heart. When discovered, the doctors generally sew up the hole, and the problem is fixed. The person's health improves; they are better than ever, because unbeknownst to them, they've suffered with this their entire lives. Today is my father's 10th Yahrzeit on the Gregorian calendar. He died September 24, 2009; the 6th of Tishrei, 4 days before Yom Kippur. lt's a hole that can't be fixed.

Not every hole in one's heart is medical; sometimes loss puts the hole there. Death, loss in general, like an awl punctures the heart, and somehow it doesn't beat the same; blood doesn't flow as it used to; thoughts are congested or confused; life's contentment fluctuates like the blood pressure of a sick man -- at one moment normal, then outrageously high, threatening illness. I am reminded of the king who had a precious diamond, but the diamond contained an ugly scar, an unmovable scratch on its surface. The king summoned the royal lapidary, and he proclaimed no improvement possible in the condition. Nothing would remove the defect. The king suffered immeasurably. Then the king heard of a wizened old lapidary, an artist everyone said, who could work miracles. He entered the king's court to hushed silence. When he smiled, and nodded to the king, all were relieved. The old man could improve the stone, which would improve the king, which would improve everyone's lives. They all prayed for success. Within weeks the old lapidary returned, and when the king removed the diamond from its cloth covering, the king smiled. The old man had engraved the diamond, creating a beautiful rose where the scar had previously been. But the truth is, the scar remained. And everyone knew it. The change was in the the perception of the king, seeing beauty where defect had been before.

We are all diamonds with defects. Loss incises our lives not just with scratches, but with wounds going deep below the surface. Often, we mention them to no one, out of hurt, or embarrassment, or shame, or simply the thought: what could anyone do? The incision exists; there is no cure, whether day one or year 10. The longer we live, the more etchings, incisions, scratches and losses we endure. But turning them into roses produces the tapestry of our lives. Can we be grateful for the love, continue to feel its presence even when the source of the love has vanished? I believe it possible; I believe it necessary. Suffering, we find that loss of love is a necessary part of living. Yehi zihrono baruch -- may his memory, the memory of all the losses, be turned into blessing.

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© 2016 by Rabbi Mark H. Levin.