Monday, March 30, 2009

Guilt and the Funeral

When someone dies emotions that you never thought you had rise to the surface. Compassion for others you may not like seem to come as second nature. Old habits and familiar traditions, though tossed to the wayside and forgotten in times of steady, suddenly freshen in your mind. And if you're like me, a bit of that old Jewish guilt creeps in when you least expect it.

My Grandfather died. And when, at the funeral, the Rabbi asked us if anyone would like to say anything about him, neither my two older brothers, nor I had anything to say. No anecdotes, no funny stories, or fond memories. And even though my uncle made a beautiful speech, I can't help but feel like I did the man a disservice.

My grandparents, my Bubbie & Pop-Pop as I called them, were never very prominent figures in my life. Ditto for my brothers. As their only grandchildren, we always felt a bit neglected and unappreciated. That's not to say we didn't love them or that they didn't love us. But it is what it is and it was what it was.

The past few days I've been trying to be strong for my mother and grandmother. They needed me and I was there. Holding their hands. Saying goodbye at my Pop-Pop's bedside when they were turning off the machines. And it's been hard. Partly because it was such a shock. He was fine and healthy two months ago. And partly because I grieve not getting a chance to know the man better.

I know he loved me. He was happy I was there in the hospital to say goodbye. Bubbie and my uncle live maybe two miles away, and though while typing this I doubt we'll become and closer to one another, I probably should try.

When the child is never made to feel like they matter by a loved one, are they exempt from feeling sorrow when they die? Don't get me wrong, I'm sad he died, and I'm sad for my mom to lose the father that she loved so much. But shouldn't I feel worse? Talk about Jewish Guilt.

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