My 85-year old father-in-law has been seriously ill; he was in and out of the hospital/rehab facility for six weeks. On July 4th, I worked 25 hours straight. I did a natural de-tox program and lost 3-1/2 inches around my waist. A stranger threw a brick at my car windshield while I was driving at 30 miles an hour down a local thoroughfare. I read several books (none of them life changing). I had my hair cut and colored. I lost touch with some friends and increased contact with others. My oldest daughter started a new high school. Last week, I went through drama at work that caused me tremendous anxiety. With great pleasure we celebrated the simcha of my youngest daughter's bat mitzvah. We are still in the midst of the Jewish high holidays, which were are observing in a relaxed manner with deep gratitude for the friends and family who are here with us.
This past Monday the 22-year old son of a colleague died. When I learned the news, the sympathy I felt for my colleague and his wife was deep, palpable. Yesterday was the funeral. At least 300 people were in attendance. (There may have been more -- I am not good at estimating crowds, but there was overflow seating in the hallway outside of the enormous chapel where the service was held.) I did not know the deceased personally, yet the consistency of the description of the deceased in the eulogies and the warmth in the overcrowded chapel made me understand the scope of loss suffered by his family and friends. I felt limited by the parameters of the relationship with my colleague because I want to offer comfort to him and his wife (in part, I suppose, to comfort myself), but I am really just on the periphery and cannot offer true solace -- who can when a tragedy like this befalls a family? All I could do was come home with renewed appreciation for my loved ones.