In Megan Devine’s book entitled, “It’s OK that You’re Not OK,” she writes: “Here’s what I most want you to know: This really is as bad as you think.
No matter what anyone else says, this sucks. What has happened cannot be made right. What is lost cannot be restored. There is no beauty here. You’re in pain. It can’t be made better. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
While these words resonate strongly, as I have written this past year, the concept of “Gam v’gam, “This and also that,” has also played a significant role during this long, painful year. I’ve tried to maintain a balance between the pain and tremendous sense of loss, together with the recognition of the many blessings I have and my choice to experience the goodness in life.
Some of the goodness is here today. My family is the goodness. You all are the goodness. You have carried me this year with goodness that manifested itself in support, love and much needed hugs. I am grateful. I am appreciative. I thank you.
But, yes, it sucks. And this feeling stayed with me after waking up from the following dream that I dreamed about Ariel z”l. I saw Ariel z”l sleeping next to a few people and I quickly approached him in utter disbelieve and woke him up. He looked so happy, at peace and handsome with a trim haircut and neatly shaven beard. We started to jump up and down, hugging each other and I screamed out – אריאל אתה חי’ אתה חי! ואריאל משיב:;
מה, אתה לא מעודכן
Ariel! You are alive! Ariel responds, what? You are not updated?
I woke up from the dream in great distress. Ariel was not alive. It sucks. But, then, after the shock, disappointment and anger, I started to ask the question: What did Ariel mean by אתה לא מעודכן – what? You’re not updated?
In the meantime, several friends urged me to be open, despite my pain, to receiving messages from Ariel z”l. I tried to comprehend, but I really couldn’t understand a word they were saying.
Since I wasn’t paying attention, Ariel z” l apparently started talking to me. He sent me a picture of a heart on the beach in Rishon L’Zion, re-arranged a shot glass and bottle of beer next to the memorial candle I lit for him, and after talking to psychologists about the support group for parents that have lost a child to suicide, Ariel’s name appeared in ceramic lettering on an apartment door next to the office of the psychologists.
Was Ariel z”l really talking to me? Maybe, but I was still not able to understand what he meant by me not being updated. It was then that I thought back to a Facebook post by Sarah Bernstein in response to a term posited by Rabbi Ben Shull who, when writing about suicide, used the term “Completed Suicide,” as opposed to committed suicide. This term resonated with Sarah because it referred to a process instead of one sudden act. Then Sarah shared the following empathetic insight, “How sad that the completion for one person brings such loss and pain for others. Sarah ended her comment with “Gam v’gam,” Yes, “gam v’gam,” words echoing my mantra this past year.
“Gam v’ gam.” I am in pain due to Ariel’s decision. It sucks. No heroics here. Just a lot of pain, bewilderment, sadness and intense longing. But, this has been a 10-year process of OCD, depression, anxieties, therapy and medication that reached its completion. And so, I thought of the dream and Ariel’s z”l response – מה – אתה לא מעודכן What? You are not updated?
Then, I finally understood what he was saying to me. I understood, עדכון an update, was not an update at all, but rather Ariel was splitting the two words, telling me עד כאן “Up until here.” He was saying, “I’ve had enough. I’m done, I’ve completed my process here on earth. I can’t cope with the pain anymore. I can’t cope with my noisy brain. Through my death, I can now be at peace, pain free, happy to see and hug you and have a beer with you. I am now able to send you love notes at the beach and accompany you in your support group. I know you are suffering, but you are not alone, I’m with you.”
These thoughts are comforting and I appreciate that people are suggesting that I should “let him go,” and cherish memories. Yes, but it’s not so simple. His death is not OK and I can’t sugar coat this angst. I’m standing in front of my son’s grave and it sucks. And, yet: Gam v’gam; this and also that. Despite Ariel’s pain, he did some amazing things during his life. And despite our relationship which was, at times, quite difficult, we, too, had some amazing times together. I do cherish the good times and the good memories.
Ariel z”l wrote a poem that concludes as follows: “Fear, the fear is a cup of boiling coffee, one needs to just wait a bit patiently and reap the benefits of the fruit.”
Dear Ariel z”l, it’s been a very difficult and painful year. I’ve longed for you. I’ve been angry with you. But, I finally do get it. עד כאן- “Until here.” You had enough. You had enough pain. It was your time to go. I know that you are now no longer in pain and resting in peace. I must learn to eventually accept that. But I confess, right now, and I believe that this will always be true, I just wish that you would have been a bit more patient and would have let the seething hot coffee cool down. I so desperately want to have a cup of coffee with you. I miss you. I love you. It sucks without you. Let’s have some coffee together, please son, please, just one cup.
יהי זכרו ברוך (May your memory be a blessing)