Tuesday, November 7, 2006

the language of grief...

...is universal. I discovered this today as I sat in a sun drenched pew of a flower filled Jewish Memorial Chapel this morning and listened to a service for a friend's father done partly in Russian and partly in Hebrew. My Spanish and my English were completely useless to me, and yet I could feel the grief in the foreign words. In the tone. In the tears. No translation necessary.

My best friend, Dochechka, is a Russian Jew...so, naturally, in the years that I've known her, I've gotten to know her troop of friends. One of our mutual friends' father collapsed at one of his friend's dinner party this weekend...he passed away right then and there, in front of his wife, in front of his friends. He had a cardiac history...had a procedure done (either a bypass operation or an angioplasty) years before. And then, this past Friday, had a repeat cardiac catheterization to make sure the arteries in his heart were holding up. He was told he was fine, that all looked well. The next day, he died. A devastating and dramatic loss.

One of the many things I've come to appreciate in my life and in my work, one thing that was highlighted today especially, is that, for all of our differences...be they differences in age, language, culture, religion, sex, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, geographic location...we are truly all the same. In the matters of love and loss, the language is no different. It's a small detail. But a huge detail. The kind of detail that if more people payed attention to, the world might be a bit different.

Rev. Alan Jones, at Grace Cathedral one particular Sunday, quoted Ernest Hemingway's statement that "Life breaks all of us but some people grow at the broken places." It struck me as a good way to digest and work through the pain of loss in this life. Grow at the broken places. It will take time, but I think my dear friend and her family, will eventually.

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