Postscript to Snapshots In Memory of Ben
"Weeping for Love Lost"
She said I had not grieved for Ben. Perhaps what she may have meant but did not know is that my grief hasn't come to an end, and, to the extent that is true , I cannot get
on with the rest of my life.
Now there is a problem or two with that point of view. Let me state unequivocally that, unlike mourning, there is no end to a parent’s grief. It is interminable and, as such, becomes as much a part of a bereaved parent's everyday life as heading off to work or tidying up the
The presence of grief becomes a constant in the equation of a bereaved parent's life although its manifestation is variably individualized. Each bereaved parent memorializes that presence differently.
I chose to write a book, something, I felt, I needed to do. Now unless you don't already know, this business of book writing is a protracted process and, as a matter of fact, consists mostly of rewriting. Searching for that precise word, that ever so elusive turn of phrase that just might clinch it for the reader, requires a great deal of time and patience. Historian William Appleman Williams defined it as the art of applying the seat of one's pants to the seat of one's chair and remaining there until you have something on paper.
My mourning for our loss of Ben was bound by the framework of Jewish law and custom. After its prescribed period ended, I moved onto grief where I remain.
Grieving for a lost child is nothing like thumbing through old photos that you put away when you have had enough. An interminable process, grieving becomes a presence, a part of oneself, a companion.
The stakes were and remain high. I felt my happiness and future, my life itself, were at risk. There were times when I drove myself hard to finish a chapter, tweak a sentence, articulate an amorphous thought. And I know now that regrettably all too often I was driving myself too hard. It is almost as if I had made a pact with the maloch ha maves, the angel of death, to return my son if I could but finish his story. Sounds oxymoronic, I know, but it’s true . Everything, I felt, depended on it.
inherent consequences that invariably accompany each of our choices. One can reasonably expect there will be detours, rough pavement and traffic snarls, but of all the lessons I have learned along the way the most important is that one mustn't forsake the living to memorialize the dead.
We each choose a "derech”, a road, a way, a path, but we simultaneously accept the
Unfortunately, I learned this too late and at great expense. There is, in fact, a time and place for everything.
My most difficult challenge has been to strike a healthy balance between living my life and memorializing that of my son. It is not, I suppose, unlike the delicacy required to walk safely on ice. Always risky at best and potentially dangerous, one needs to exercise appropriate caution.
We all know what will happen when we slip and lose our balance. That's right ... and I can assure you the process of getting up, though painful, is not only possible but absolutely necessary.
These words I dedicate to my son Benjamin, Z’L, in the eighth year of his absence.
May he rest in peace and his memory a blessing.
Alan D. Busch
February 24, 2008