Today we marked the end of the shloshim, the 30 days of mourning following Jake’s funeral. The day dawned cold and grey. A shroud of fog enveloped everything, damp and misty. We drove to the cemetery in silence. Even the trees cried cold tears as we slowly walked to where our dear son now lies. It was like walking through a cloud, every sound muffled, shapes dim and hazy around us. The heavy air was absolutely still.
A small group of our friends and family gathered at graveside to read verses of Tehillim (psalms) and say Kaddish. I still can’t quite believe it, but seeing the small temporary marker with his name on it hit like a musket ball to the chest. More like a wrecking ball. I fought back my tears as we stumbled haltingly through one more Kaddish, holding each other tightly lest one of us slip away.
When we knelt to lay stones around his plaque, we both lost it. The stones are to mark the place and to show that we were there. That someone remembers. As if we could ever forget. Our dear friends cried along with us, Jake left such gaping holes in everyone’s hearts. Crouched over his grave weeping the bitterest of tears, it became just a little more real, and yet still so surreal. Why, oh why did he have to leave so soon?
Somehow we managed to get back to our car. Leaning on each other, dear Cena by our side, we slowly crawled up the stairs, one step at a time. And that is how it’s going to be from now on. One step at a time. Not really seeing the top of the staircase. Just making it through one more day becomes the goal. Everything else will come later.
The rest of the day passed in a grey internal fog. I made a gallery of images collected from friends and family, and posted it here. To give me something to do other than wander from room to room. Tears welled up in my eyes from time to time at the thought of that happy child, teenager, young adult, whose short life lay documented before me. Pleasurable memories and painful reality living side by side in every picture.
This evening we gathered at our little shul. Filled to overflowing with dear friends and family, we shared stories, laughed, cried, and honored his huge heart, his gigantic view of the world, his compassion, his humor, and his indomitable spirit. How he had an innate sense of who needed a friend and how he was able to become the friend they needed. We talked about ways to create a legacy for Jake that can live on, and make a difference in people’s lives. We ate sprinkle cookies, Jake’s favorite, toasted to his Neshama, and basked in the fellowship of the people who knew him best.
We will have to look for the bright light behind the darkness. We will find a way to spread his light over the world. He will touch many people, bring happiness to those who need it most, perhaps inspire generations of children, and live on in all of our hearts. We love you forever, Jakey Jake. No one who knew you will ever forget you.