Sunday, November 3, 2013

Only The Good Die Young

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
Sinners are much more fun...
You know that only the good die young
 -Billy Joel

My uncle died at 42.  It was the first time I remember seeing my mom cry.  We were all very close and I remember even as a 9 year old wondering how my cousins (who were roughly the same age as me) would ever survive without their dad.  How do you go on when someone who is a part of you is gone?

As I got older, death became a more common "thing".  My favorite grandfather was first.  He was sick and in the hospital and I remember sitting on the bus coming home from 8th grade and picturing my mom saying to me, "Pop Pop died today" so that I would be prepared.  It did not work.  When the news came, we were all devastated.  Then death went to the other side of my family.  My aunt died of suicide at way too young of an age when I was in high school.  Then my mother's mother when I was in college.  In time, both my father's parents.  Some of the deaths were easier to accept.  Some took away the suffering or allowed for another to be with a spouse who has since passed.  In Judaism, we are taught that there is no heaven or hell.  And yet I always felt like when people die, they are reunited with those that have passed before them.

I like the "dance" of the funeral.  In Catholicism as well as Judaism, there is a prayer and a song and then a reading or a eulogy.  A well choreographed way to say goodbye.  It's soothing to hear a familiar hymn or song.  Often times the emotions get the best of you and you are standing there mourning not just the person who recently died, but the people that have died before him or her.  

We did not have a funeral for Allie and I do not regret that.  Gary and I needed a private way to say goodbye to the baby we had, in fact, just said hello to.  I remember thinking that a funeral is for the living and in that moment in time, I did not care about the living.  I only cared about her dad and me and how we were going to say goodbye.  

Yesterday, I went to another funeral.  The uncle of one of my very closest friends.  I grew up with this friend and her family is like my family.  Her uncle was too young to die.  He had such a kind heart and a gentle soul and a smile that felt like he saved it just for you.  

It seems to be like the extra good people - the ones with the big hearts and the big souls - the ones with so much life left in them are often the first to go.  Ours is not to know why but I think we can question it (and we do!).  Why do the good die young?  What is the reasoning?  What is the logic?

So for my uncle who never got to see his kids grow and create families of their own or to my aunt who never got to see me graduate college or to the mother of one of my college roommates who never got to walk her daughter down the aisle, I ask why?  For all the babies that are loved more than the heart can handle, only to be born with no cries.  Why? 

I am not sure we will ever know.  So we have to accept their fate.  We have to wipe away our tears and tell stories about them and keep their memories alive.  We have to do the living they cannot.  For only the good die young.

Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation.  For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.  ~Albert Einstein

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