When the Disabled Die

We are burying my uncle. In a few days, I will place the last remnants of one side of my family into the ground. My mother is alone. And now, we as her children are responsible for the pieces.

My mother has chosen not to have a funeral. At least, not a traditional funeral, the kind held in a synagogue with eulogies and accolades. Instead, we will bury my uncle graveside. A pauper’s grave repeats maliciously in my brain.

“No one will come,” my mother tells me. “We’ll be lucky if we have eight for a minyan.”
I want to tell her that the angels don’

t speak Aramaic. I want to tell her our friends will arrive. But, none of that counts. Not right now. Not to my mother. My mother, who spent every day of the last six years visiting my uncle. And, not to my family who spent every day of the last sixty-some years caring for my uncle.

Who cries for the disabled when they die?

My uncle deserves the burial of a normal life: a life with family, friends, children and colleagues. But, a life of disability destroyed all of that. And now, my family will stand alone at the graveside of my uncle and mourn for a man that no one knew.

But afterward, we will return to our house for shiva. There, my family and I will gather and eat whitefish and lox. We will remember our uncle. We will cry about his death. And, we will laugh about his life.

You all should have been so lucky to know him…

Posted by Hollywood to Holy Land