When All That's Left Is Love

I recently attended a Celebration of Life gathering for a dear one. Young of 35 years, funny, talented, a loving, generous gentle giant of a man is how I would describe him. He struggled with opioid addiction for many years. It finally took his life.

When my son and I first entered the room, I wondered if we were in the wrong place. There was a band playing old rock and roll music and a banquet table covered with delicious looking foods and ample drinks open to everyone's grieving appetite! People were mingling, embracing one another with hugs while in the background the sounds of Dire Straits, Al Green, The Eagles, and more played! I felt comfortably uncomfortable and yet, just to be sure we were in the right place, I still asked someone if this was a memorial gathering for our friend. I smiled at the reply.
"Of course it is! Wouldn't he have loved this?!"

My note this month is about living and dying, and just as in reality, it's a brief note. In a year of learning a few hard-earned lessons, attending this service spoke to my tenderized heart. It brought levity to pain, beauty to loss, and mysticism to reality. I share with you a poem from the Jewish tradition speaking of the death of a loved one read by our friend's mother. After one week, it continues to haunt me.
As I end another year, I'm inventorying the passing of many things and now, perhaps, I know what to do with how they live in me.

I wish peace for all of us.

"When All That's Left Is Love" by Rabbi Allen S. Maller

When I die
If you need to weep  
Cry for someone  
Walking the street beside you.  
You can love me most by letting
Hands touch hands, and
Souls touch souls.  
You can love me most by  
Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and  
Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).  
You can love me most by  
Letting me live in your eyes  
And not on your mind.  
And when you say
Kaddish (prayers) for me  
Remember what our  
Torah teaches,  
Love doesn’t die
People do.  

So when all that’s left of me is love  
Give me away.