Read a Novel

Read a novel my friend exclaimed and my entire body froze. My friend meant well, trying to encourage me to let go. To let go of my pain of losing my son to suicide two years and eight months ago. I had told him that I was looking forward to vacation and had already ordered and received three books with each book representing an important theme and interest in my life: Fitness and nutrition, Zionism and suicide. When my friend heard the last word, that’s when he said, probably out of love and concern for me: Read a Novel!

Instead of the concern that I’m sure he wanted to convey, what I heard was a dismissive, judgmental and critical comment. What I heard was, ‘let go and move on,’ so you can simply enjoy vacation. An ostensibly simple caring thought with no ulterior motives. But, that’s what the pulverizing power of my son’s suicide has done to my psyche – I hear, feel and live differently and nothing is simple.

I live fully, enjoy and appreciate the multitude of life’s blessings and ride through the myriad of mixed and contradictory feelings that have accompanied me since he died. I am very sad, I am very happy. Often at the same time. I am angry at my son; angry at myself and yet have learned, over time, with the help of therapy, a support group for parents who have lost children to suicide, family and friends, to gain more compassion for him, for me.

But, it’s anything but simple. One does not just let go and move on. Perhaps, that’s why this Facebook post resonated so deeply with me:

The first sentence – Let that shit go is crossed out. The post continues:
Be with that shit.
Deal with that shit.
Heal from that shit.
And then, when you’re ready, Let that shit go.

It’s a long, hard process, but one that is certainly doable. I enjoy my scotch, climb the Jerusalem hills on my bike feeling strong, thoroughly enjoy vacation with my beautiful wife and yes, after completing the three books that I brought with me from Israel, I listened to my friend and bought two novels.

The first novel that I’m currently reading is entitled America for Beginners, Leah Franqui’s first book. Along the lines that one cannot make this up, this is how the first chapter ends, “Pival Sengupta, was going to America to find her son or his lover. And to kill herself.”

Once again, my body froze. My brain told me to stop reading the book. After all, I’m on vacation, need to let go and simply read an enjoyable novel. But, I continue reading.

It’s not simple, but I’m reading a novel and enjoying it.

Read and Ride Through

About the Author
Meir Charash, originally from Fair Lawn New Jersey, made Aliyah to Israel 37 years ago. In 1979, Meir acquired a B.S. in Business Management, majoring in organizational management, from Boston University and a MSW in 1984 in Group and Community Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work (WSSW) at Yeshiva University. Meir worked as a community worker in Beit Shemesh and in Jerusalem, was the Director of the Israel Office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for 19 years providing fiduciary oversight to donor funds and facilitating Israel – Diaspora relations. Meir’s expertise is in the area of community building, fundraising and organizational behavior. In addition to supervising Wurzweiler social students, Meir worked as Faculty Advisor and Coordinator of the Israel Block Program from 2010 to 2017. Meir is married with three children and resides in Armon HaNatziv, Jerusalem. He is a certified fitness trainer, Thai massage therapist and an avid mountain bike rider having participated for nine years in the Alyn Charity Bike Ride for the Children of the Alyn Rehabilitation Hospital and in two races, the “Epic,” and “Sovev Arava”. Meir served in the armored forces for a year and a half and 15 years in reserve duty.
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