Wednesday, October 08, 2003

SOUL SURROUNDINGS: Yesterday I attended the sobering funeral of M.'s sister. M. came to know my family when he was a teenager. His Yeshiva was up the block from my house & he used to come by with his friends to play ball in our backyard before the fledgling Yeshiva was able to construct its own court. Soon, he was a regular at the Sabbath table in my house and became a sixth member of the family. I was perhaps, 9 years old when that happened. Today, M. lives in his adopted hometown of Kew Gardens with his family. His oldest is sixteen or so years old. Wow, time flies. M.'s slightly older sister C. liked Kew Gardens so much that -after she got married- she moved in next door to M. and proceeded to raise her family there too. Monday -Yom Kippur- C. lost her fight with cancer and returned her soul to the Maker. Over a thousand people whose lives were touched by C. and her family attended her funeral in Forest Hills yesterday. It was truly an amazing and touching ceremony. In addition to family and friends there were students of the deceased, as well as those she befriended as part of a peer support program for the similarly ill. The funeral home was way past capacity. People were crammed into doorways in the front and back and poured out onto the sidewalks and the parking lot to listen to the eulogies and share in C.'s family's grief. Throughout, I confess, I only thought of M. I hardly knew C., but vividly recall M. runninng up to me, giving me a bear hug and letting me cry on his shoulder at my father's funeral some 16 years ago. Yesterday, I returned the favor.

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