David's Blog | Tragedy in the Community
David's Blog
There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
Tragedy in the Community
By David
Posted February 14, 2010

This past weekend was marked by a tragedy of massive proportions. Thereís a family with three children who attend the same school as my children, and one who attended the New Jewish Community High School in our neighborhood.

On Friday night, while the rest of the world enjoyed the beginning of Presidents' Day weekend, this familyís oldest son was killed in a car accident. He was seventeen at the time of his death. According to local news reports, he was a passenger in a car with two of his friends, both sixteen, when the car apparently went out of control, and he was ejected from the car and hit a parked vehicle. He was instantly killed.

We are not extremely close friends of the family, but my son is in the same class as the brother of the deceased. In this particualr school, there are a small number of children in each class, and so weíve known the family relatively well over the years.

The tragedy caused shockwaves throughout the entire local Jewish school community. At the funeral, there were more than 1,000 people in attendance.

Beautiful Eema and I paid a shiva call to the grieving family, accompanied by the Good Boy and the Sweet Sweetheart. Both under the age of nine, this was their first real encounter with the topic of death. Thankfully, they reacted well, not fully comprehending the situation. Children have a unique concept of time, and they cannot grasp the finality of death. It's probably a good thing that they cannot, because as final as is death, so is the sadness of the loss infinite. I'm glad they were spared.

A Senseless Loss
A Senseless Loss

I shook the hand of the father and told him that I just didnít have the words to fully express how sorry I was for his loss. I watched his mouth tremble, fighting off the urge to weep. I, too, would have broken down at that moment, and so I avoided looking into his eyes. He is a young, self-made highly successful businessman, maybe five years younger than I. His house is beautiful and luxurious, filled with games and provisions you would expect to find in the home of a happy, active family.

From my unfortunately numerous encounters with death, burial, mourning, and grief, I knew to some extent what this man must have been going through, but not fully. Iíve seen good people die young, children losing their parents and grandparents, wives grieving for their husbands, and other heart-breaking losses. But this had to be different.

As I shook the hand of the father, I knew that those hands had just carried the coffin of his teenage son, and laid him to rest in a freshly dug grave. I knew that he must have smelled that earthy smell as he lowered the coffin, and pushed the dark brown moist earth to cover the coffin, feeling like this just canít be real.

I know that he felt like it must be someone elseís life, because this was impossible. I knew, because I felt those very same feelings on more than one occasion, burying loved ones. But this was different. This man, through no fault of his own, was forced to live every parentís worst nightmare Ė the loss of a child.

We walked back to our car after shaking his hand, and hugging the mother. Our children climbed into our SUV and Beautiful Eema and I stood there to ensure that our own children were buckled in, safe and sound. We drove away silently.

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