A new dawn

 Happy St. Patrick’s day!!!

Yesterday was the first day since my father passed, that I could wear a smile for a bit, and while it didn’t last too long, it was a sign. Yesterday showed me that life will eventually hold some semblance of normalcy for me, that I’ll be able to smile and laugh again. Today, I can already feel small shifts in my emotions, tiny glimmers of hope that each day will get the tinniest bit easier without my dad around.

This is something I’ve dealt with since February 13th and it’s now March 17th, over a month of sadness, and while it still continues, it lessens a bit finally. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after this honestly, but I will push onward and upward, for and in my father’s memory. That being said, there is more news…

We may have found a synagogue here in Philadelphia, in the form of Rodeph Shalom, a beautiful reform synagogue, that’s only 11 minutes away from us via bus. We had an interview with their membership director yesterday and we feel it went well. We plan on attending every service and engaging in being as active as possible once we’re members!

I also received my first Tanach and Siddur as seen in the picture above and both volumes are utterly gorgeous editions. Once I am finished reading Living Judaism by Rabbi Dosick I’m going to begin a steady diet of Torah reading and getting my prayer aspects aligned (3 times a day). 

So much has been going on lately that it’s hard to remember it all honestly! 

Today was my ten-mile marathon supporting St. Jude’s children’s research hospital and it was a lot of fun. I had one donor on it, but that’s okay, between my donation and the donation from my benefactor, it was successful none-the-less. 

We’ve been spring cleaning around the castle as of late; we’re three days in, with several more days left till we’re finished. We’ve been cleaning and rearranging every room and in the process, our vacuum broke and we had to order another. Our old shark vac got a dust bucket emptied salute after 2 years, and we got a new Hoover vac in its place. 

We’ve also been getting necessities for our Jewish household, havdalah and seder plates and such, truly immersing ourselves in all things Jewish. It’s absolutely beautiful and we’ve all fallen in love with the Jewish people, culture, and shared history, religion, and music. 

After the funeral

My dad

This past Saturday was my dad’s funeral, just two days ago and I’ve been processing everything since. The funeral was very nice and the Pastor did a far better job than I expected, but he’d met my dad a few times in the past. The anecdotes about my dad were spot on and helped make a tearful day into a celebration of his life. After the funeral, we all went back to my mom’s house, ate, and talked the night away.

When I say I’m still processing things, I mean that I am still trying to find a way to express what I’m feeling, thinking, and how deeply my dad’s passing has affected me. That’s why I have been writing here in my blog about everything, I cannot just let it all out, but I can type it out a bit better. I suppose due to the act of typing itself, it is a step removed from just speaking about it, which I still cannot do.

I delivered a eulogy at the funeral and it was painful, I fought against a deluge of tears, but my sons lost that battle. My eldest Adrian was curled up away from everyone crying uncontrollably and Gabe sat curled in his chair in the middle of everyone. My wife fought back tears and my Uncle Bill couldn’t even speak during the funeral, which was understandable as he lived with my mom and dad.

I feel numb still, in shock, almost lost. While at mom’s house I kept waiting for my dad to just walk into the house like he did when we’d all visit him and he had dialysis. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, and I’d experienced a lot of death in my time on this planet. So many people were there because everyone loved my dad, he was the type of person that if you knew him, you loved him… period. 

Everyone was telling stories and memories of him at my mom’s house, people smiled, laughed, and cried. My kids played games and talked with my two uncles who helped raise me, which dad would have loved and gotten in on. I honestly think if dad saw his funeral, he would have been happy at how it was all handled. That unto itself gives me some solace.

Closer to the end of the night, my uncle Bill and mom gave me dad’s cross he loved and wore and it’s something I will forever cherish. I cried once I was home because it was so beautiful of them to give me it and to have something to keep dad close to me. 

After the funeral, I’ve been thinking of ways to continue to honor my dad’s memory, to keep him alive within all of us and I know he was proud of the changes I’d made and who I’ve become, so I want to continue onward and forward with that. He was kind and gentle and thus I will strive to be kinder and gentler myself, but he was also very funny and well I already have that down 🙂

This all has been overwhelming to me and I couldn’t begin to fathom what my mom is going through. I don’t know what to feel honestly like I said I’m numb still, but I know it’s better out than in and so I will release my grief as I can and as I continue to honor his memory and legacy of love, kindness, gentleness, and laughter. 

Grieving when one cannot

My dad died one week ago, through it I have had to find the strength to stay calm and hold myself together for the sake of my family. My wife, my four kids, my mother, my uncles, I am holding strong for them and while it is a tremendous weight to bear, I gladly will shoulder it. I have not grieved and I feel horrible, I am depressed, saddened to the very core of my being, but not yet…

My father’s ashes will soon be in my mom’s possession and with it, a funeral will be planned. I will be talking during it, reading a eulogy and a poem shared beside this post. I will hold back the deluge of my heart a bit longer, then I will release an ocean of tears after.

I cannot begin to tell you how difficult this has been and will be a while still, but I can tell you that the hell of today, tomorrow, and for time to come, cannot last forever. My dad wouldn’t want this, I knew him, he was a happy, jovial, kind, and loving soul. This too shall pass, yet his memory will continue on forever. 

Once I have been freed to grieve, to release this pain and sorrow, I will dedicate myself, my life, and my works to his memory, to the kind of man he was. Yes, I am my own individual, but he raised me, as I am me, I am also part of him. The person I am today is greatly influenced and due to the person my father was, and I will seek to honor that every day I breathe. 

There’s a Jewish poem often recited during Shiva that has helped me immensely during this time called, “We remember them.” The poem reads;

At the rising sun and at its going down; We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter; We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring; We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer; We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn; We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends; We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as We remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength; We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart; We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make; We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share; We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs; We remember them.
For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as, We remember them.
By Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

My fallen hero

Yesterday I received the most difficult news of my life, at 1:30 am EST my father passed away. A few days ago I made a post about him and his struggle to survive over the last several months in the hospital, but he has lost the battle. He raised me to be kind, caring, to sacrifice myself for others in need, but over the last few months, he also taught me bravery, strength and that love transcends distance.

I thought about whether or not I wanted to write this, but writing is helping me to contain my grief and remain composed for the sake of my mother, my wife, and my four kids, each of whom needs me at this point. My dad was someone who if you knew him, he instantly touched your life with his kindness and gentleness and that’s something I aspire to in myself. He loved just about everyone and was everyone’s friend almost immediately.

He would give someone the shirt off of his own back if they needed it and was the kind of person who if you talked about music, history, politics, or the mafia, he could talk for hours on end. He changed my life, helped make me the man I am today by his example, and talked to me often about how no matter what someone was in the past, it’s never too late to change. He struggled physically, yet was the strongest man I’ve ever known, he faced a lot of challenges and adversity but was still the kindest man I’ve ever known.

My dad was maybe 5’7″ tall, but was the biggest man I’ve ever known, his heart unmatched, his knowledge of music vast, and his love for people unwavering. He was quick to forgive others, he had a fuse a hundred feet long and a sense of humor that I hope to match in my own life. We had hundreds of stories, he loved telling about our exploits, like when people in the neighborhood messed with him and he’d tell them, “You know who my son is, I don’t think you wanna do that,” and they’d apologize (I’m smiling as I write this).

He told that story to my wife about six times… 

My dad was my hero, a giant among men I’d known and all of my friends loved him and thought he was just too damn cool. When friends would have problems at home or were in a bad situation, he’d let them sleepover for the weekend and we’d stay up late watching horror movies and listening to music after he ordered us pizza or something. When I was a teen I remember I snuck downstairs late one night and drank one of his beers and he said, “Don’t tell your mother, but don’t drink either you’re too young,” rather than scold me or get me in trouble with mom. 

We would sit in the basement of his house and he’d play the drums, any genre of music, he’d hear a song once and boom, he’d play along to it. It’s because of his inspiration that I took up music myself, even today as I continue to learn percussion, it was from his playing drums for me as a kid. We’d sit and listen to records on his stereo component unit, which I honestly believe inspired my love of vinyl today.

He did so much for me in my life that I could never repay him for, but he told me many times over how proud of me he was. That’s why I had to write this, as difficult as it is for me to articulate everything right now, I have to get it out in some constructive way and share it to some degree. Though he’s my fallen hero, he will never be forgotten, he will on through me, through my kids, and the stories they tell to their kids in the future. 

That’s how powerful the love my dad was over the lives of everyone who knew him, that’s why I had to write this…

I love you dadu…