We arrived at the cemetery and walked up the hill. There, under the tent, was a deep hole, a pile of earth, and at the bottom of the hole a plain wooden box with a simple Star of David on it. I stared for the longest time, I just couldn't believe that she was really down there. I mean, I know that SHE wasn't really down there, but her physical remains were. It was just so strange to think of HER being separated from "her", if you know what I mean. That sappy old poem, "Do not stand at my grave and weep, because I am not there" suddenly felt a lot more relevant.
She had always struggled with her weight and body issues, eating disorders and acceptance. A part of me wanted to laugh, because as I looked down, her coffin seemed so tiny, so very narrow. I thought "She'd be so pleased!" How nice to think that she died slender and had an elegant, thin coffin. G-d forbid she die fat! (I know that sounds horrible, you really had to have known her to get that she's be laughing at it, too.)
There were dozens of enormous dragonflies lazily swooping circles across the lawn. It was like something out of a movie. I've never seen so many dragonflies in one place in my whole life, and the bright warm sun sparkled on their wings. The place was surrounded by fat, sassy crows, and yet they were completely silent through the whole service. They seemed to be paying their respects as well, saying goodbye to one of their own.
The service was beautiful and heartbreaking. The officiants did a wonderful job. I'm in awe of their ability to "keep it together", considering that they were very close friends. I cried a LOT. There was a minyan, kaddish was said. We took turns placing earth on her coffin. It was very surreal, for a long long time I just sat and watched everyone else, and I was in a sort of dream state. I think that after a while you can't sustain the grief and you just go numb for a bit until you can catch your breath.
Between the service and the memorial gathering, we went to get some wine for the memorial, and we ate some sushi outside the store. There was a lady with a 2 month old pomeranian puppy, and she let us play with it for about 20 minutes. It was a little puffball, a teething tribble! Sushi and puppies make everything better.
At the memorial I opened the wine and proceeded to drink 1/2 of it myself. I talked for a long time, with people who I haven't seen in years. Some old grudges were forgiven, fences were mended, and lost connections were remade. She's be proud of us. Watching an elderly Jewish man (who was called in at the last minute to make up the minyan) having a deep philosophical discussion with a 6 foot drag queen was really cool.
A few final thoughts:
Why are we were on earth? We are all here to learn very specific lessons. She struggled all of her life with feeling that she did not deserve love and acceptance, yet fiercely craving it, and being unable to receive it on many levels. In the course of her illness, and especially in the past few months, she had to ask for help. She fought it SO hard, and pushed so many people away with her fear. She made people really fight her to accept anything, and yet she wanted it so badly. You really had to be patient with her, to see past all of her rejections and angry words.
In the end, when she didn't have the strength to push people away, all she could do was to receive. In this way, she was forced to see that people really DID love her for who she is. NOT because she could buy them drinks, go to bed with them, entertain them with her wit, or do them any favors at all, but because she was WORTHY. I think that when she finally "got it", was what made it possible for her to let go to her connection to this world.
The world became a bit stupider with her passing. Her intelligence was staggering, her breadth of knowledge was amazing. She used her intelligence not to one-up or intimidate people, but to foster empathy, compassion and understanding.
Please, everyone. Go read a book. Even better, read a book about something you are violently opposed to. If you can't bring yourself to spend money on a book you'll disagree with, then check it out from the library or buy it from a charity shop. Just don't go to the downtown Seattle library, because she hated that place!
"Do not do unto others, that which you find hateful to yourself. The rest is commentary." ~ Rabbi Hillel
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