Monday, July 25, 2016

Elie Wiesel and Holding Family Close

Open Heart
          Three short months after reading Elie Wiesel's Open Heart, I was saddened to hear of his passing. We know that death is inevitable, yet that doesn't make us any more comfortable with it. We tend to feel a sense of justice about it, as if we are owed a certain number of years, life experiences, or enough happy memories to make up for the bad ones, something - anything - to help lessen the sadness and help us understand.
          When faced with the prospect of our own deaths, we tend to idealize either a quick passing, or one in which we are somehow emotionally and spiritually ready to leave. It is this idea of readiness that Wiesel explores in Open Heart. He had expected, after all of his experiences in life, that all the effort he had put into love, into family, into honoring the ones who had not survived the Holocaust, and into helping others honor them as well, that he would feel he had done his part. Yet a feeling of readiness eluded him when confronted with doctors telling him he needed to be ready.
          Elie Wiesel's beautiful openness makes this small book incredibly valuable. Just having someone tell you, from experience, that you very well may not be ready when the end comes is a comfort. It is what we suspect, but don't want to admit; what we fear but can't imagine. Joining Wiesel's thoughts and emotional processing isn't depressing, it is like having a guardian angel. I can see myself rereading this many times in the future.

My four kiddos and two nieces at my birthday last month.
          I am thinking about this topic more this month, not only because of Elie Wiesel's death, but because I've lost two others this month (an uncle and a 17yo family friend). Two sudden losses in a row have a way of making it that much more important to connect with those you care about. We don't know how much time we are given, and the truth is that most of us won't be ready when the time comes to say goodbye. If there is someone that keeps popping into your mind, take the time to send them a message. You won't regret it.
My husband and I (on the right) with some good friends. Testing out the
camera timer on the iphone!

Regardless of how difficult it may be to travel the miles to see each other, or set aside the time for a dinner, or branch out and do a skype call, it is worth going out of your way to connect. I encourage you to embrace the awkwardness of not knowing what to say, the difficulty of finding a time to get away, and the embarrassment of a messy house. Those things pale in comparison to the bonds you build when you make the effort to connect.
My momma and daddy. Some of the best people on earth.

1 comment:

  1. I also think that most of us won't feel "ready" when we die, despite however many years we've had. And I don't think any of us are ever "ready" to lose someone to death either. I must pick up Open Heart. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    You have a lovely family :-)


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