There’s something in the air. Bill, a good friend and co-worker of mine’s mom is in the hospital and the prospects are not good. Another co-worker, Tsipi, from my time in Israel just lost her mom. Yesterday I was hanging out with a friend who’s a cop and one of his co-workers was killed in a traffic accident on the way to work.
I first really became familiar with death and rituals surrounding it while I lived in Israel. The thing that’s interesting about death and funerals in Israel is the level of community it provides.
I’ve been pretty blessed. The first time in my life that someone I knew and cared about died was when Oz Moses died from complications due to ALS (Lou Gerrig’s disease). I worked with Oz and loved being around him; everyone was. Intel chartered two or three tour busses to go to the funeral. Those busses were full and there were a bunch of cars that went as well. There were a couple hundred people at the funeral, the memorial 30 days later and a smaller, but still substantial crowd a year later for the one year memorial.
Jewish culture/religion has the concept of Shiva, from the Hebrew root work “to sit”. Shiva is a period of about a week during which immediate family members congregate together to mourn and receive guests who come in a show of support during the most sensitive and numbing days. You just go an hang out for an hour or two. You talk about whatever… politics, vacations, work, as well remember the person that died. I went to probably ten of these while I lived there. I went to Jerusalem about 1.5 hours away on a school night to visit Nava, I went to Oz’s family (who I’d never met before) about 1 or two hours away. I can’t visit Tsipi as I’m not in Israel anymore, but if I still lived in the country, I’m sure I would have made the 2 hour trek. Tsipi will have a bunch of visitors.
For being associated with death, it’s a pretty wonderful experience.
So I guess it’s a reminder to appreciate the people around you. While hanging out with Chuck (the cop) he spent about 50% of the time on his phone talking to other officers supporting each other. I’d met the guy that was killed and he was someone I was glad to have working the streets. I spoken with Bill by phone at least every couple days over the last week he’s been with his mom at the hospital in Eugene and look forward to visiting with him and his family when he returns to Portland.