Yesterday morning was the end of sitting shiva, which is called "getting up." It concluded early in the morning and was the hardest part of shiva for me. After morning temple services, we all met up at the cemetery. I arrived early and found myself slowing treading towards Robin. It was a hot day with a breeze coming from the east. The first thing I notice, when I stand at the bottom of Robin's gravesite, is that it is now covered in fresh, moist sod, not yet woven into the soils of earth. The next thing I notice is the vision of a cross defined by the space between the newly placed sod. Interesting. I was definitely solid at the moment, firmly grounded, able to speak calmly to new arrivals, and capable of not shedding a tear while seeing others' tears fall. After the few close friends and immediate family arrived, it was time to start the ceremony of prayers.
My parents, Philippe and I are positioned on the south side; the Rabbi on the west side (the bottom side), and all others completely around...supporting, praying, loving my brother Robin. During this short ceremony of prayers, I lost focus and battled my ability to stand firmly (figuratively). I tried to re-gain focus by escaping reality for a moment. I tuned out the Rabbi's voice and stared catatonicly at his feet. He was wearing a pair of worn out black loafers with a gold chain-like accent at the top. It had a loop and a twist in it. His black pants had cuffs and were just the right length for him. The left pant leg was laying over the golden accent on his left shoe. I couldn't tell you what shirt he was wearing, or if he was wearing a hat or sunglasses. I just looked at his feet. But when that stopped working and the nose started dripping, I focused up, higher up, as if to feel my brother's presence or to see a light of hope. The light blue sky was inviting to the eyes and the gliding white clouds were peaceful. The leaves on the trees were swaying and shimmying. The wind was soft on my skin. And again, I couldn't hold my focus. The sounds around me were too powerful to leave the physical reality of it all. And in the end, when the Rabbi said: use this time to ask Robin for forgiveness (for things we did/didn't do, said/didn't say) and to leave it buried with him...no one could retain their composure. This was the hardest moment for all of us. I internalized my regrets and wishes, my solid turned to mush. Shiva is over. Walking the path down the cemetery aisles, it hits me...the strongest feeling of loneliness ever. I am encountered by many hugs and the "I'm sorry's" and the "stay strong" clichés...and all I want to do is run, run far away and run alone...maybe just to cry...to cry the heaviest tears I've ever known. Instead I sulked like a child; half trying to hide, half looking like I was begging for someone's attention. While feeling horribly empty, I wanted to be alone yet wanted a hug. While feeling rage and envy, I still wanted to be alone yet I needed a shoulder. While feeling all that I was and wasn't feeling, I did and didn't want to be alone. Disoriented, emotional, overwhelmed, spaced out, scared, broken, hurt, pitiful, confused...inside my heart, I was alone. Shiva was over, it was now time to slowly emerge back into society...without my brother Robin. alone.
The sitting shiva experience was __________ (fill in any positive or negative adjective of your liking, it would apply). At this point, I am ready for the next step... I am ready to jump into the hectic world of my work. I am ready for some normalcy in my life. I am ready.
One thing though, I am left needing one good, sulky, lonely, heavy down pouring tears of pain. In the end, I discovered sitting shiva just deferred my grief and pain to a later unknown date. I will definitely revisit my brother and do this all over again someday soon, for myself...alone!
In the meantime, on to happy memories and happy thoughts...
back to reality...
Robin, I love you!
forever in my heart
Before I go, let me make one thing clear:
NEVER EVER ask "How are you?" to someone who is mourning.