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How To Be A Hero Even Though Your Heart Is Broken


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My family sustained a loss almost fifty years ago. My parents have confronted the loss of my brother every day of their lives since then. Because it has proved helpful to others, I am positng this here in the event that someone here might find comfort and/or inspiration in it. I have also posted it on my Blog. (link below)Please know that if you are reading this, you are forging ahead with the rest of your life in your own way and you are on the road to bringing meaning and purpose to your loss. God bless you all.

I have sometimes gotten irritated when well-meaning people refer to my brother’s death (I keep a separate website on the book I am writing about my brother’s death( http://home.comcast.net/~littlepileofseeds/ ) as “tragic”. I don’t like to seem ungracious or, worse yet, nit-picking in the face of the sincere concern of others but I make an important distinction. It is the word "tragic". Tragedy, to me, is something from which there is no possibility of recovery. Yes, my brother did not recover but that’s not what I mean. Recovery is for the living. A tragedy is an occurrence wherein darkness envelops the soul to the extent that the spirit that I wrote about as it shone through into my life through that little pile of seeds is no longer accessible.

My mother and father are the great personal heroes and example in my life. As bereft as I was as a nine-year-old- finding my brother’s body in our basement, I can now see that their devastation as his parents was a more crushing blow. Ironically, I spent the next forty years of my life looking for answers to puzzles that my Mom and Dad were solving right in front of me. (Oh well, each of us has to follow our own path to its end.) Their strength and vitality carried them through. In a way that mirrored the primordial will to serve the divine presence in their lives that impelled Adam and Eve to answer Abel’s death by having a third child, Seth. My parents responded to my brother’s death by having another child. My kid brother Arthur, was born just a year later. By this and many other acts of generous faith they refused to be tragic. They are now 90 and 87 years old respectively, and enjoying a sweet and beloved old age.

That is not to say that my parents ever forgot that they lost a thirteen-year-old son. Nearly fifty years later they still think of him countless times a day. In many ways the pain is still as fresh as it was the day he died. They live on Cape Cod, an hour and a half away and it’s sometimes not possible for us to see them more than a couple of times a month. This has been a good month and we’ve seen them three times already with a week and a half left to go. I treasure the time that I can spend with them. On our last visit, Dad and I were having a quiet talk when he said something that had me worried for a moment. He told me that he has never been afraid of dying since that horrible day because in the back of his mind there is the possibility that when he dies he might be able to see my brother again. When I looked at him for reassurance that he was not throwing in the towel on life, he smiled and I understood for the first time precisely what makes my father a real hero in the classic sense. He has never been afraid of dying but he has always had the courage and strength to go on living. Not just existing either, he has given his best- every day of his life. He loves to tell jokes and never offends anyone. His greatest joy is other people, especially his family. His crowning distinction, though, is the quiet, dignified strength with which he is thankful for what he has, and preserves it with his love. To me, his openness to all of life, his sense of humor and his enthusiasm for the struggle epitomize the wisdom that can come from “the house of mourning”(see: A Little Pile of Seeds above). He is the living embodiment of my favorite lines in Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) “Go, eat your bread in gladness and drink your wine in joy, for your action was long ago approved by God… Enjoy happiness with a woman you love all the fleeting days of life that you have been granted to you under the sun- all your fleeting days…. Whatever it is in your power to do, do it with all your might. For there is no action, no reasoning, no learning, no wisdom in Sheol, where you are going."

Ecclesiastes 9:7-11

© Jerome Gould [url=http://alittlepileofseeds.blogspot.com/]My Blog

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Cain, thatis a testomy to your family, that they could stay together even when facing the death of a son. That had to be very hard for them. In a world today that advocates divorce like buying candy in a store for your parents to stay togthher is awesome. I hope to be like your dad for my son to be able to be there even though I would rather be with my wife in heaven. I know it can be done with God's help.

Thanks again

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