Life and Death

Mourning by Harold M. Schulweis

What is left to be done after the dying is over?
After the earth has covered the grave
the casket lowered
the ribbon cut
the tears shed
the last kaddish recited
the farewells over
the closure formed?

But there is no final closure in death.
Life and death are locked in embrace,
So intimately intertwined that the "Keriah" of the cloth
cannot tear them apart.
Something important remains intact.

When dying is over, a different kind of memory takes over.
Not the memory that is obituary.
Not the memory that records the past indiscriminately.
But an active memory that sifts through the ashes of the past
to retrieve isolated moments and that give heart to the future.
That memory is an act of resurrection
It raises up from oblivious the glories of forgotten years.

Even the memories of failure, the recollections
of frustration and regret are precious.
Broken memories are like the tablets Moses shattered,
placed lovingly in the holy Ark of remembrance.
Memories are saved, those immaterial, disembodied ghosts
that endure.

What is life after death?
Pointers, ensigns, marking places
that raise us up to life and give us a changed heart.
Perhaps a life lived differently, better, wiser, stronger than
What is left after death? The life of the survivor.

* This document, or any portion thereof, may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.


Monday, January 31, 2011 - 11:45am