By Rabbi George Gittleman
It was a day like any other with the usual raft of email, follow-up phone calls, community building and program planning, a bar mitzvah lesson and a meeting with synagogue staff and then an emergency.
“I’ll come now. It will take me about a half hour to get there. I’ll see you soon.”
The way is familiar. We’ve shared a lot of life together. At the door, I get confused for a second but see the mezuzah and ring the doorbell. Tears first and then a hug: a spouse of many years suddenly and surprisingly at the end of life. We’ve been here before. I don’t say much. It all spills out. We sit together for a while.
“God works in mysterious ways,” he says, suddenly lucid in spite of the drugs and pain. “I guess I’ll find out soon if He wrote me in the Book for another year…”
His body is flotsam in the wheelchair, but his eyes sparkle. “I’ve had a good life,” he tells me. “I am so grateful.” I nod, smile; a tear rolls down my cheek. I say a prayer, then a kiss goodbye. Could be the last time we see each other. We don’t know.
Driving home, I am lost remembering a grandchild’s bat mitzvah, a wedding, a funeral, holy days and holidays. That sparkle… It has always been there but in the reflection of finitude, it is so radiant, so beautiful.
Emmy, our Shepherd mix, greets me at the door. I kneel down to pet her and she licks me across the face. “What a good dog you are.” She smiles, wags her tail and licks me again, pressing her nose into my chest, taking a good, long sniff.
I pour myself a whiskey, sit down and drink.
It is good to be alive.