I wrote about this on her 13th Birthday, April 7th, as I reflected on the emotional moments surrounding her non-routine entry into this world 13 years earlier. You can read it here.
Since then I have learned something new, thanks to my chance to have a private word with Emily before her Bat Mitzvah. Grandpa to Granddaughter. We sat in the Sanctuary of Temple Rodef Shalom, on a small bench that had been set off to the side in a private corner. I wanted to be able to tell her one-on-one how much I loved her and how proud I felt of her accomplishment and devotion to our tradition.
Of course, I cried. I did not plan on it, did not expect it and it took me a few seconds to be comfortable with crying in front of my granddaughter.
I did not have a script written out for this conversation. What came to mind and what I said came from The Actual Dance
The line from The Actual Dance in the show is delivered in the context of that anticipated ultimate moment of standing in the center of the dance floor of the Ballroom as I prepare for my love to take her last breath. We are at moment and in that other-worldly place, I say, surrounded by:
“[E]very one we have ever known, ever met, and ever loved in the world; not just our families and our kids and our friends we now have, but even the generations before us, and I wonder -- just wonder – if in that mass of people crunched around the darkened walls for the Ballroom are even the generations yet to come.”
What became apparent to me in that moment with Emily, and what I was able to tell her between my tears, was that she should know that as she stood on the Bema in front of a congregation of about 200 people, that she would also be wrapped in the warmth of love from:
“Everyone we have ever known, ever met and ever loved in the world, not just your family and the friends you have now, even and especially the generations that have come before you.”
It was an amazing moment for me, and I hope for her. Of course! The energy of love that I discovered exists in moments of the rituals around loss; is also available at other meaningful moments in our life. The truth is I don’t know if Emily herself could feel that love at that moment or during the service. I did, more in that private moment with Emily than later in the full congregation watching Emily chant, flawlessly by the way, Torah. Perhaps it is something that happens more often later in one’s life, a connection to the eternal nature of being. I love that I am able to articulate my experiences both in the performance of The Actual Dance and now in my role as Grandfather. What a blessing.
What have been the events in your life that have evoked similar moments?