Friday, November 12, 2010

On The Other Side of the Door

On November 4, 2010 Rabbi Richard “Rube” Rubinstein was ushered into the Presence of his Messiah. He is now on the other side of the door while we wait on this side. In his last few days I think he, according to his wife, was allowed to crack that door open and peek inside for when he regained consciousness between those times of sleep, his eyes had that, “I’ve seen and heard something most amazing” look about them.
I will miss him. He was not only a Rabbi (teacher), but a mentor and a friend. He believed in my son when others only saw confusion. He accepted my daughter as one of his own even though she continues to worship elsewhere. He saw beyond circumstance. He listened. He listened beyond the words and into the heart.
I remember him holding court as it were during oneg. He’d set a chair off to the side and wait. And if you weren’t the first to pull another chair alongside his first, you waited and watched for the next opportunity along with the others who did the same. Most of the time someone would have to make him a plate of food or grab a bagel with cream cheese and take it to him. And then when you talked, his eyes were not roaming the crowd hoping to catch that “important” person. You were that important person. You had his attention. If you told him something sad, his eyes would cloud over as his heart met yours. If something you said was worthy of a laugh, his head would tilt back and he’d let out with a hardy robust “ha, ha, ha” – straight from the heart.
A few things I learned from Rabbi Rube –
  Care for animals. He knew they were important to G~d by the instructions in Torah that He set forth.
  Conducting one’s life as a Jew is a sacred trust. Do it well.
  Passion and meekness go hand in hand.
  Waiting in prayer creates anticipation.
  Anything can be redeemed.
  Dying with grace and dignity is a beautiful thing.
A few days ago I was in the home of the Rebbetzin surrounded by the family both blood and synagogue sitting shivah as is our custom.  I was given the sweet privilege of rocking one of Rabbi’s almost three month old twin granddaughters to sleep. One of the ladies of our shul observed this, got up from the couch and whispered to me,"how appropriate – you’re holding Rube’s grandchild, while he is now holding yours.”
I’m sure Abba allowed Rube to hear that remark too. And we both smiled.

A Very Hard Journey

I am walking a road that one never expects to walk. This journey will be long - life long.
Roads like this many times begin with a phone call.  Just a routine phone call in the middle of the day.
My phone call came just like that. I did indeed expect a phone call that day coming upon one month ago. I expected an excited, “we’re ready, come on over to the house”, phone call. But instead the voice was anxious, bordering panic beckoning me to rush to the hospital where my daughter and son-in-love had gone. It was the beginning of rush hour. My house was on the other side of town. The freeway was crowded. Lots of stops. I in fact abandoned the freeway for surface streets. At least I was moving toward my destination. And all the while I prayed and dug deep inside my spirit for a glint of hope.
But the prayer was answered differently. I was given courage and strength.
My sweet grandson, Rhys Michael, passed from his mother’s womb into eternity just a few hours before his birth.
And I did cry out and ask why. I still do. But I am content to know that I may never know why. Just the knowledge that my Heavenly Father holds me a little closer when I ask, is comfort.
These are the things I am learning as I walk this rocky path.
My Heavenly Abba will never let me go. And He will never let my daughter and son-in-love go either. I have seen in them, as well as my husband and I strength that comes from somewhere else. From His Hand.
Comfort comes in different ways than we would like or think we need.
I’m learning that for a grandparent there is not the support out there that is offered to grieving parents. We take on the role of caregiver. We watch as our children hurt so very deeply and this is a boo boo that we can’t kiss away. So we do what we can, and offer what we can to the point of exhaustion.
We come home to mailboxes filled with ads and bills but no cards of sympathy. To empty refrigerators, too tired to shop after a full day of back to work stress. We answer the questions that everyone wants to know but would never ask the grieving parents.
There is support out there for those grieving pets, but not for grandparents. Crazy huh?
But this I have learned. There are those out there who are praying and remembering and thinking. They still blanket us with prayers of comfort in the privacy of their own homes and hearts.
I had this brought home to me two Saturdays ago as I went to my synagogue.
All I had to do was walk in and I had several embracing me, listening to me, allowing me to cry. “ You’ve been on my mind all week.”
Those are sweet words.
And so I’ll continue to walk. I am weary.
Within this year of 2010 I have either directly or indirectly with family and friends, walked this path of grief 12 times.
There is no merit badge for this one. Just the realization that G~d’s grace is sufficient. And that brings me comfort.