a sacred moment~

My dear friend Rhoda was buried on Sunday. I attended her funeral, along with some of my angel sisters.  The sun was bright, it was a little crisp temperature-wise, which always, as far as I’m concerned, makes it all a bit more bearable in such circumstances.  Rhoda was Jewish, though non-practicing, and her service followed the beauty of their traditions.  It was closed casket, so I didn’t see “her” until we were at the cemetery.  I stood with the others as the pallbearers lifted her coffin out of the hearse and set it on the gurney.  It was shocking to me, and painful, to see-it was so very small and narrow. Cancer had done its’ worst to her, and the feeding tube wasn’t enough to keep her where she needed to be. There was little left to sustain her, and her poor body and her beleaguered heart, so grieved since her mom’s death, just decided enough was enough.

The Rabbi said a prayer as we all stood there, and then we were invited to follow behind her coffin as we made our way to her burial site.  There was the deep hole for her coffin, with the pile of dirt beside it, and numerous shovels.  I took note of them but didn’t realize what they were for until later.  Prayers were said, her coffin was lowered, and then, some of the mourners stepped up and started picking up the larger rocks, and dropping them carefully into the grave alongside her coffin.  Shovels were lifted, dug into the pile, and then dropped over the grave.  It took my friend Alisa stepping up to me to explain to me that, in the Jewish tradition,  family/friends take turns shoveling the dirt over the coffin. It is our final gift to the one we love, that we perform this last service, rather than strangers.  I could do that.  It made me think back to my brother Kysa, when he died, and we went with him to be cremated.  So I stepped up and took a shovel in hand, and, as I went to work, I spoke my farewells to Rhoda.  I had been so fortunate to call on the previous Thursday, and her most wonderful friend, Alan, answered, and after we spoke, he put the phone to Rhoda’s ear, and, though she was already unresponsive, I know she heard me speak my love to her, say goodbye and wish her godspeed.  So, as I shoveled, I whispered a prayer to her, then stepped aside for another to take the shovel.  When the services were over, I asked for my angel sisters to stand in a circle, along with her two friends who took such care of her, Alan and Cathy, and  we put our hands on top of one another’s, and thanked her for being a part of our lives, and prayed that she would always walk in beauty and love (which I am so sure she is doing now).

Rest in peace, dearest Rhoda, and dance among the clouds…

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One thought on “a sacred moment~

  1. Alison, thank you so much for writing this blog entry. I love that the day of Rhoda's funeral is documented so beautifully for all the world to see and for those of us who were there, to remember some of the details. Already, I had forgottem (till I read your post) about all of us putting our hands on top of each others & blessing Rhoda & knowing we were all there for one another. Thank you Alison for writing all of this for all of us Angel Sisters see & take comfort in. We need you & all of these memories. Glad you are here in NJ for us at this difficult time.

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