Tribute to a dear friend.

Tribute to a dear  friend - Cape Jewish Chronicle, August 2014

I  feel my heart beat faster as I notice the long line of cars parked outside the gates of the Jewish Cemetery.  I'm attending my first Jewish funeral - my friends' dad passed away last night after they found out early in February that he is very ill.

As I walk up to the main funeral hall I see that it is already packed with friends and family.  Other than funerals that I've been to in the past, most of the congregation  is standing around inside talking, hugging, some crying and others smiling as they swop stories and memories of Stanley.  All of a sudden the gentle hum of voices go quiet as the Rabbi informs us that the mourners will now enter. My heart breaks as my dear friend, her husband, daughter, mother and brother enter the hall to take their seats in the front. Grief is making them look different to what I'm used to.

The casket is brought in. I'm struck by the simplicity of it. It is a plain light brown box with rope handles.  On top there is a black cloth with what looks like embroidery from my corner in the back. No flowers, no fancy shiny handles, no slide show, no music.  Plain. Simple. Raw.

There will be no eulogy for the beloved Stanley today as it is Pesach. As I look around me I realise that the eulogy is all around me, every single person that showed up a testament of all the lives touched by my friends loving father. Sometimes we don't need words.

During the sermon I'm touched by the sense of peace, quiet and calm created through the Rabbi's prayers. This is kept short and we are all asked to follow the casket and mourners to the grave outside where the grey skies echo the grief carried in the hearts of my friend and her family.

As we proceed through the graves I notice a Rabbi standing quietly to the side of the path.  As I walk past I hear the whisper of his prayer carried like feathers in the wind to spread through the cemetery.  I'm so touched by this gesture.

As even the wind seem to cry, with tears flowing,  my friends father is laid to rest. To the side of the grave there is a pile of sand with shovels.  My heart breaks for my friend and her family as they step forward to prepare for their final act of honouring their beloved  by throwing dirt onto the coffin.  I cover my heart with my hands , I do not know where they  find the courage and the strength .

I turn away to catch my breath and I'm struck once again by the raw honesty and simplicity of what I witnessed today. Still there are now flowers, no music. Only grey skies and the sad whisper of the wind.  Honest grief.

I know that as days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months and my friends' heart start to heal, the footprints of her fathers' love will remain in her heart forever. We are busy writing our own eulogy with the gift of every day. It is not about how much we acquire in this life but about the footprints of love we are leaving behind.

We come into this world with God's love. We leave this world with God's love. We are all the same.

In death as in life less is sometimes still more than enough.

We say goodbye. Howling wind, grey skies and loves footprint all around.  - Nadea Victor