The e-mail came in at 7am. I knew it was coming, it was just a matter of time. But, like two previous phone calls, when it comes, it shocks. The finality of it! My closest friend from a year I spent at a London congregation had died. Pancreatic cancer took her. We had spoken 3 weeks prior for her birthday, and she told me she had decided to forego further treatment, but was confident that she had more time; even made plans for trip in 2016. Not to be! Lyn was another of these people who brought life and love to the world. She had her share of “tsouris” in life, overcame it with a disposition I admired and always emerged for the better…until this!
I do not understand all of this, I admit it. This is the third close friend of mine to have died within the last 5 years. You may think that as a rabbi, I may have a better understanding of the “why” of this. But, I admit, I do not. Three people, Jake, Steve and Lyn, all sweet souls who brought life and meaning to the world and to the people they encountered. Taken all too soon.
I know there are a lot of cliche, Hallmark card responses. Many of you have heard them.They leave me empty. With each of these, the reality of my own mortality draws closer. Don’t like that either!!
There is great frustration being thousands of miles away. We are left with memories. I trust, and have faith, that I shall be able to understand this, at some time. Right now, however, there is this sense of sadness. These three people, now gone physically, now find their place in the world of the soul and spirit. You carry these people with you, as many of you know. They are aways there, somewhere in our own soul. But still, that “why” lingers.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.