#00Buck Posted May 14, 2016 Share Posted May 14, 2016 I buried someone this week in the literal sense. It was a Jewish funeral and in their tradition you quite literally bury the dead with shovels. At most other funerals the casket is lowered into the ground and then everyone walks away and a crew of workers use a machine to fill in the grave. Part of the tradition is that you scoop your first bit of dirt with your shovel upside down to show your reluctance to say goodbye. Then you use your shovel normally to fill in the rest. All the mourners are invited to take turns. I've attended Jewish burials before. Participating in the burial is considered one of the greatest good deeds that you can do as it is an act of kindness that nobody can ever repay you for. I'm used to being the only non-orthodox person filling in the grave. The more you participate the greater the weight of your good deed. I let each person take their turn. When everyone was done I stepped up. At a certain point the ceremony was concluded but the burial was incomplete. I joined the orthodox as I have in the past to complete the burial. Every last scoop of dirt was placed back where it came from. The person who died lived as close to a perfect life as possible. They did no harm to anyone ever, they used as little of the world's resources as possible to sustain themselves, they raised a family in the most loving and steadfast way possible, and they chose to die on their own terms when the decided it was time to go. To bury them was an honour. The final scoops are easiest. The hardest one is the first one. To show humility the dead are buried in the most plain pine boxes you can find. They look like something out of an old cowboy movie. The lids are thin and you can hear the hollow sound of the dirt hitting the lid. It is loud and resonant. That's usually when people start to cry. It intensifies when enough dirt has been scooped in to completely cover the coffin. That's when people realize that the dead are well and truly gone and never to be seen again. I was one of the only people who showed up without sunglasses. I was also one of the only people who didn't spend all their time staring at the ground. I was also one of the only people who didn't cry. Not because I'm hard hearted. I've been fortunate enough to know in advance that this person was dying. I did my best to make sure I talked with them and would have no regrets about things I never got to say. I committed myself to remembering how they lived instead of thinking about how they would die. I'm one of the only people who ever smiles at a funeral but then again I'm lucky enough to only have to bury people I like. So a few days later I go down to the parking garage to get into the car and when I open the car door I see the floor mats are covered with grave dirt. It's funny how the memory of the burial came right back. I know my sweetie would cry if she saw the dirt so I scrubbed the floor mats and cleaned the car to be sure there was no evidence of that day in or on the car. I remember that the weather was beautiful and although Jewish graveyards are greatly devoid of beauty since the tradition calls for very simple headstones and markers the beauty of nature shone through. I also remember that the immediate family claim to be atheists. Say what you will about religion. I've never seen a more miserable thing than an atheist at a funeral. I think they spend more time thinking about their own lives than about the person who just passed away. I've always found comfort in being a religious person. Anyways, I just wanted to share this and say that although you may think that life sucks sometimes and that things are hard life is a gift. You can do with it whatever you please. Sometimes choices are hard but you always have choices. The person who died lived through the deepest poverty in the great depression. They hadn't bought a single stick of furniture or piece of cutlery since the 1950's. Their humble apartment was like a museum. They brought life into the world knowing that the future was uncertain. They showed a daily toughness and dedication that puts me to shame. In my past I've never been as good as they were. I can only hope in my future I can live up to their example. So please everyone stick around because it is worth it. They were buried just a few days shy of their 100th birthday. They struggled in poverty from the days of horse and buggy to the age of computers and space travel. In the end they retired comfortably and it was an amazing journey. If someone can go through all that and die happy there is hope for all of us. Even those who sometimes feel hopeless. Shalom. 18 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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