Two days ago, I learned that one of my best friends and colleagues, a dear woman of incredible talent, lost her husband of many decades. I sent her flowers. I talked to her briefly. And I sent her a letter which might be of more general application.
“God bless you. Losing a loved one is cruel. Losing your long time husband and partner and best friend is overwhelming. Unbearable and yet it must be borne.
“When my beloved parents died some years ago, one of my smartest friends, Barbara Bernstein, MD, told me the following. ‘When you lose a parent or a child or a spouse, it’s as if someone put a brick wall up in front of your front door.
“‘The brick wall is a brick wall and it will always be there. But after a while, it will be covered with ivy. And after a while longer, it will be covered with roses.’
“For me, who still says Kaddish for my parents and loved ones every night after almost 20 years, I have found the roses analogy to hit the mark.
“To lesson the pain, I also write letters to my parents in my head almost every day. Some address what I know my parents would criticize me about — eating too much, spending too much money. I make my usual excuses. Some are prayers of thanks for the care they took of me: a beautiful home, delicious meals every day and night, air conditioning, then a novelty, elegant international travel, almost unbelievable family connections to help me make my way in the world, from my first summer jobs to the White House and the Wall Street Journal. The gift from God of my wonderful sister and their caring for my spectacular wife even when my wife and I were separated long ago. Mostly, they are just little summaries telling about how much I still miss them and hope they are at peace in eternity.
“When I am stuck on the Freeway, when I am swimming back and forth under the palms, I talk to them and thank them for what they did that launched me into such a pleasant life. My life would have been far poorer without them.
“I somewhat act as if they were not truly dead, but just away on a long trip. Isaac Singer famously said when asked about the departed, dead Jews of Poland, ‘There are no dead.’ This is how I get by thinking about my parents and all of those I loved and lost. To me, they are just not dead as long as my memory is alive.
“Perhaps this will be of some slight help in your desperately difficult situation right now. At any rate I have found it to be of value in dealing with a loss so immense that it darkens the sun.
“God bless you once again.
“Love, Ben and Alex”
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://thespectator.com/world.