A few days ago I went to a memorial / celebration of life service for the husband of a friend who suffered an illness this year and died too soon. It was a beautiful service for a man who was a beautiful soul, and this is a poem that was read at his request.
I had never heard it before and have been thinking about it, so I thought I’d share it here.
When All That’s Left Is Love
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 for me
Remember what our
Love doesn’t die
So when all that’s left of me is love
Give me away.
April 8th was Paul’s and my nine-year anniversary. I, of course, forgot. But as I was puttering around the kitchen I looked over and saw this: I walked a little closer and saw this: Nine years, you see, is pottery. So he bought me a bowl. It is an inexpensive bowl that looks a lot like many other bowls we have in our house, which is perfect. His thinking was, he wanted to get me something in the unlikely event that I would remember. But he didn’t want to get me anything too amazing, because in the more likely event that I would forget, he didn’t want to make me feel too guilty. It needed to be just enough to keep alive the knowledge that he is a slightly better person than me, and that I am lucky to have him. Which is true.
People who don’t know Paul don’t get it–not that there’s any reason they should, there’s not a lot of shiny packaging. But those who know him well enough totally understand. He’s like Judd Apatow and the Buddha, rolled into one, which I think is a big reason we’ve managed to survive some big stuff–life-threatening illnesses, family-planning disappointments, financial uncertainty–with relative equanimity. He’s really smart, but doesn’t lord it over you half as much as he could. He can hold lots of different things in his brain all at once, make decisions and drive at the same time. He’s a great problem-solver. And he’s an extremely good friend. Sometimes in bed I lie there with my fingers tangled through his hair, and think how much I love him.
Then I start hoping that neither of us dies too soon, which makes me start thinking about people dying, which takes me to a dark place.
But then he rolls over, and his morning breath in my face forces me to roll over too, and dark thoughts disperse when I see this: