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For the Bereaved of Borough Park July 14, 2011

Posted by voolavex in chasids, despicable, Jews, Politics & Religion, Social Issues.
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I have been lazy and busy for the last few month – wasting perhaps valuable and pithy thoughts on FB.  But today my heart is broken and I am in mourning for a little boy I do not know.  His name is Leiby Kletzky and he would have been 9 years old next week.  Now he is dead.  Like most of this country I paid some attention to the trial of Casey Anthony – an ordeal almost 6 years old and one that resulted in an acquittal based on lack of a case.  The DA in Orlando screwed up.    Whatever we learn now about this matter will always be fraught with doubts but Casey Anthony is protected by double jeopardy so she may be a pariah – but she will go on her way.  I don’t much care to be very honest.

Today I got an email from a list I am on called Hatzolah – a volunteer Jewish ER service and this one caught my eye.  It told of a little boy walking home from day camp in borough Park Brooklyn who was kidnapped, murdered and dismembered by a member of the same neighborhood.  This happened yesterday – not three years ago.  Leiby was a little Orthodox Jewish lad with glasses, a yarmulke and sidelocks  and sneakers coming back from day camp.  A little boy.   The family’s only son. His mother was on her way to meet him but he got lost and a man with a similar look drove by and we imagine Leiby asked for directions.  Leiby got into the car.  We will never  know what he said but tonight he will be mourned and buried.

The man presumed innocent until proven guilty Levi Aron is a quiet, religious loner who lived in his parent’s home.  He was not married and he worked full time. He only known crime was pishing in public.  I suspect most men have done this.   One can only assume that there were very dark parts in his head and where his soul might have once been.  He has supposedly admitted to what he did to Leiby.  What he did was so heinous and ugly you can read the tabloids to get the details.  A parent should never know such things can happen to children.  Such things should never happen.

While I write this I am waiting for the real press to tell  us about Leiby and his short but beloved life.  The sisters who must have adored him, the mother who treasured him; the father who planned in his heart for the 13th birthday on which he would become a man.  I am waiting for the outrage and the anger and the fury that accompanied the death of Caylee Anthony.  A child no more or less precious than this little boy.  I am waiting for the outcry, the keeners, the wailers, the sign carriers who will demonstrate for Leiby and I know I will be even sadder because none of that will happen.  And I would ask you who have loved any child to make sure it does.  Because it matters just as much.

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In That Single Act June 8, 2008

Posted by voolavex in dying.
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In the end the tears refused to come.  The wind blew west across the hill facing the freeway and the home of Mickey Mouse and the Disney Studios.  The cars raced along the 210 and on Forest Lawn Drive and not one tear escaped my eyes.   I stood with my husband at a grave site in Mt. Sinai Cemetery, beneath a canopy and saw one very small, plain pine box waiting to be put in its forever bed.   A fine linen shroud embracing my friend in death.  A Star of David atop the coffin.  I prayed, alone and aloud,  the rites for the dead.  She and I – bound forever in that single act. Eishet Chayil.  A woman of valor.  Her price – to me – beyond rubies and beyond the diminished months of life she tried so hard to leave.  In the final moments though, she found the courage and the strength to take one last breath and leave us wishing, too little, too late, for things to have been better.  In the end she decided she had had enough and then left us wondering: where had she been and where did she go?  Her time had finally come.  Grief and faith tell us that she is in a better place but all we really know is that she is in a different place.  She is not with us any longer.   I long to believe her pain and sadness is over and that she remembers us just as we remember her.   I long to believe that my version of the place her soul sought out is what she would have wanted.  I long to have done a thousand things differently for her.  I never saw her cry and perhaps that’s why my tears won’t come just yet.   They will come when it’s time.

And Die in Despair April 14, 2008

Posted by voolavex in dying.
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No one wants to die.  Even mentioning it creates magical thinking for many and therefore could make it happen unintentionally.  Best not to even think of it.  In fact,  best to think it out of existence because no one really knows what happens when you die.  Who would volunteer for a trip with no brochures, no return ticket and no tourism minister?  It is either so damn great that there is a confidentiality clause as soon as you sign in or it’s such a hideous nightmare that no one wants to invite anyone else there.  You are on your own.

You’d think.

Being born is a huge deal – the operative words are:  “push, come on, push, it’s coming, push, here it comes” and slick as a Willy out comes the new person – greeted by family and friends and ready to take on the world.  Women love to talk about labor – how long they suffered or how fast it went or how bad it felt or how well they did.  It’s just a subject that never seems to get old. For mothers.   And to make it even better – when you are in labor – assuming you are due – the medical community eggs you on;  puts extra stuff in your IV  to speed up the process and if need be, cuts you open.  Or both.   Getting born is a time sensitive enterprise.  And it can’t happen fast enough.

But try to die.  Not suicide or murder – just regular, “time’s up, time to die”.  You cannot die when it’s time.  The process of passing away is so complicated, dragged out and hideous, that unless you go in your sleep without a sound – your own personal end of life is going to be harder than hell.  Imagine if you can, a person who is going to die from various causes thwarted every step of the way by everyone.  Doctors, nurses, relatives, friends, even strangers impede the process like a relay race. If you think back to having a child (if you are woman or a man who participated in the event)  here is the analogy:  every time you got ready to actually expel the baby, someone stepped in and made you stop.  And they could do this as often as they wanted. And you have to play along.

Someone I cherish deeply is in exactly this place right now;  stored in a constant care, old folk’s home.  She is dying but she cannot die.  She is lost inside herself and cannot communicate.  She cannot eat on her own nor can she eat solid food.  These are some of the things she will never do again: She will never taste a ham sandwich, clam chowder, pizza, chocolate ice cream or a Pink’s hot dog again.  She is not able to take care of her most basic needs. She will never flush another toilet.  She will never laugh again at the Golden Girls; she will never be a golden girl. She arrived at this place in her life from the ravages of diabetes and she is not going to get better.  She has reached the end stage of life.  When she does speak, she cries for help or says “no more” or simply “no”.   The people who care for her are extremely good to her. But the entire situation is a mine field of unspoken wishes, permission forms for medications that cannot restore her to health and a sad, circle of hope and hopelessness that  grow like a field of yellow weeds – beautiful yet useless.  This year she had flu shots and pneumonia shots.  Both these afflictions could kill her so we couldn’t risk that.  Last week a dentist came in to see about x-rays, crowns or dentures.  To raise her self-esteem?  No reason was actually offered because there was no good reason for any of it.  But we must seem to be hopeful and pro-active.  She is not on a respirator, but I know it will be suggested at some point – the inability to breathe without help is a part of dying.  We dare not even mention this.  There is a kindness and compassion that exudes from the staff where she stays.  Religiosity factors in, but more than that, it is a part and parcel of those who care for her and her family, who love her.  Even those of us who are   exempt for the idea of miracles. The others weigh the sadness of her death with the even greater sadness of her diminshed life now. As I see her and watch her leave us by small increments I ask myself – would I want this for myself and the answer is no. Major faiths decree that life is given by God and only he is allowed to take it.  Wars have been fought for dogma such as this.  People have died defending this faith against those who don’t.  None of it makes much sense. 

Dying is a lonely event.  We may not hasten it for reasons that have vexed mankind for eons.  We may not argue that the right to a dignified death is equal to the right of a dignified life.  We speak in euphemisms and ifs and maybes because any other terms are suspect.  Secretly some of us pray for the dying to die.  Openly we deny the very thought.  The criminal who is hastened to a pre-destined death may even have a reason for gratitude.  It may seem wrong, but it’s quick and final. The innocent merely get a life sentence without possibility of a decent death. And in all the time of mankind this question has existed and has never been resolved.    If we live in hope – must we die in despair?

So this is for the person I cherish and love.  Not an answer but an acknowledgement that when I think of her, this is what I think.  And it is a promise to her as well, that when she finally dies,  I will remember all the days we shared, the secrets we whispered and I will be as grateful for these memories,  as finally, I will be for her death.