This morning on my way home from the school run, I had the radio on. Regularly they have a spot where a person of faith comes on air and gives a short inspirational message. Today it was a Rabbi from the Jewish faith. She was talking about the ritual of visiting loved ones’ graves during the High Holidays (the period between Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement and Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year).
She told of how it is customary for Jewish people to leave pebbles on the graves when they visit instead of flowers and how the pebbles seem like little calling-cards, saying you’ve been there. I thought it was a lovely visual. It touched me too, because it reminded me of my grandmother who passed on three years ago in America. One of the hardest parts of living abroad is being away from your loved ones. I was always afraid that she would pass on and I would be unable to see her in those last days. That unfortunately is exactly what happened. The sadness of losing someone so far away is compounded by the fact that you can’t say goodbye properly. Even today, things seem unfinished and the pain is much more raw than it seems it should be at this point.
My grandfather (her husband) passed away when I was only 13 years old. I remember in my turbulent teen years going and sitting at his grave and talking to him. I knew he wasn’t really there any more, but it was still comforting. This was exactly what the Rabbi was talking about. The rituals we have around death are more for the living… to console… to remember.
So it seems fitting, today, 9/11, to remember. Not only the victims and their families, but our own lost loved ones too. I know there will be so many others like me today; unable to say goodbye properly, wishing for comfort and peace. So for us and for yourself too, I ask that you take some time out to think today of those you have loved and lost. Enjoy the fond memories you have. Laugh at the silly ones. Cry at the painful ones. For this is the gift of the living.