Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Long Stem Rose

Boker Tov;
It has been a bittersweet few days.
Friday morning when I logged on facebook, I found a message awaiting me.
A dear friend and sister in faith had passed from earth to Paradise some time Monday.
Her name was Lana.
Mark and I met Lana and her husband Wayne years ago when we attended the same congregation. We later attended a home Torah study.
Lana and I both had a love of cooking. And Lana was an amazing cook. Amoung my treasures are recipes she gave me, including one for pickling watermelon rinds which I haven't tried yet.
But this summer, I will.
The message said that there would be a viewing that evening.
It doesn't matter how many times I enter a Funeral Home, into a viewing room, there is always that lump in the gut, that pain in the heart, the tears that begin to well up.
Because I know I am here to say a final earthly goodbye to someone who had been part of my life. As I walk down the carpeted hallway, thinking of words of comfort and finding none.
Wayne stood near the coffin of his beloved, breaking out into a huge smile when he saw Mark and I. Wayne told Mark and I how he would pass our home going to work and look up at our apartment window. There he would see the menorah in the window. He said, "I know you guys have been hoping to move, but every time I see the menorah, I rejoice because your still here."
Lana held a single long stem rose in her closed hands.
Wayne's love gift to his beloved. I couldn't keep the tears back.
 I kept expecting Lana to sit up and say "got ya!"
Mark wrapped his arms around me. I could feel the sorrow in Mark's body.
We shared precious memories about Lana, thankful she was no longer in pain and knowing we would see her again.
Then, the most beautiful part of the day occurred.
The person who send me the message about Lana, she and I had a major misunderstanding and had broken fellowship. How often I wanted to contact her and say for my part I am so sorry.
It took Lana's homegoing to bring us back together. My friend and I messaged back and forth, forgiving and accepting forgiveness.
She walked into the room and we embraced, crying in each others arms, knowing our Heavenly Father and Lana were smiling down, quite pleased.
The moment was as beautiful as the long stem rose in Lana's hands.
It was at this moment we all gathered around the coffin that contained the earthly remains of someone we all loved and recited the Mourner Kaddish, remembering that even in this painful moment, we are to praise G_D.
I leave you with the following quote from a post I did about death about a year ago:

In Judaism, death is not a tragedy, even when it occurs early in life or through unfortunate circumstances. Death came to the world because of sin, but one day, through Messiah, that shall be removed. Our deaths, like our lives, have meaning and are all part of G-d's plan. This does not mean that G-d condones to actions of murders; they shall indeed face judgement, in this life and in the next, for their crimes. I truly believe that hell was not only created for satan, but for the likes of Bin Laden, Hitler and Stalin.
In addition, we have a firm belief in an afterlife, the world to come, where those who have lived a worthy life will be rewarded. Knowing that G-d has created a place for the righteous, while our hearts are ripen open with the death of a loved one, we know where they are and one day, we shall join them.
Times like these do not make me question my faith in G-d or doubt that He is. It enforces it. For only G-d can make sense out of all of this.
I am reminded of quotes from two of my favourite books: C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle J.R.R Tolken's The Return of the King.


From The Last Battle: There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are–as you used to call it in the Shadowlands–dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
(C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (HarperCollins: New York, 1956) p. 228.)

And from The Return of the King:
Gandalf: Farewell, my brave Hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea, comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say "do not weep", for not all tears are an evil. It is time, Frodo."
Sam: What does he mean?

Frodo: We set out to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.

Sam: You don't mean that. You can't leave.

Frodo: [hands Sam the RedBook book] The last pages are for you, Sam.

Frodo: [Voiceover] My dear Sam, you can not always be torn in two: you will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy, and to be, and to do. Your part in this story will go on....

We all are authors in this journal called life. Our stories intertwine and weave into the tapestry of the universe, of heaven itself. The black threads of pain and sorrow are those that bring out the bright, rich colours of joy. Those who have passed on to the afterlife, either heaven or hell, have set down their pens. Their portion, as Frodo stated, is complete. Just Frodo passed the RedBook onto Sam, for he had many pages more to write, so do we, who are still walk upon this good earth.
And one day, we too shall hear the crash of a train and find ourselves in Aslan's Land, where He shall begin to tell us The Great Story, the Story we, ourselves are part of and that goes on forever. Lana has finished her portion of the Great Book. We are left to continue writing our part.
 We miss you, Lana


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