Observing my own year of mourning has made me more attuned to others’ sadness. More attuned to the requests for prayers, to the losses of my friends and neighbors. I’ve been sending more condolence notes and attending more shivas. Noticing the other mourners saying Kaddish.
I don’t think it’s really that there is more loss around me; I just think that my antenna is up.
It’s also made me more aware of the different kinds of sadness. My next door neighbor, who lost her mother at age 90, told me that her loss was sad but that my loss of my mother at 66 was “tragic.” Maybe. It certainly was tragic to me.
But I’ve also become cognizant of even more tragic things. The amazing social action leader in my synagogue, a friend who attended my wedding, who left us much too young after a long struggle with cancer. The friend of mine, a young widower with three sons, who lost his amazing wife much too soon. An older cousin (younger than my mom) fighting liver cancer.
A fellow Jewish environmental leader, studying at Yale after working in two different Jewish environmental organizations, struck down in a car accident, left in a coma, who died in hospice last week, at age 29.
This is tragedy.
Yet I see the way that the Jewish environmental leaders and his friends honor his memory. How they see his light shining in the world, and all the blessing he gave. It makes me proud to be a part of the Jewish environmental movement, where people bind love and faith and spirit into a thing of beauty.
I didn’t know him personally. But I can see the huge and beautiful impact that he had, how many he touched, by the ripples in the world that I inhabit. By the many who loved him and were inspired by him. And even by the small legacy he left on Jewcology with his articles.
Not having known Jonah, I am left inspired by the impact that he had, sad that I never got to know him, and shaken by the devastating nature of this loss to the world. May Hashem comfort all those who mourn him.
And may his memory be for a blessing. I know it already is.