June 5, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,
Early Sunday morning, May 19, Aliza called me in Sunriver from Denver Health to tell me that Doni had taken poison, was unconscious and would not live. The family was at the hospital and had said their final words. Sari took Aliza’s phone back into Doni’s room so I could tell him how much I loved and treasured him.
In Orthodox Judaism, burial is done the same day before sundown. Harry and I drove the 4 hours to the Portland airport and then flew to Denver. We arrived at the cemetery at 7:30 pm just after his service ended. We joined the family hugging them one by one near the grave, all of us in deep grief.
I had been in Denver the previous week, May 8-13, for Uri’s graduation from the University of Colorado. During my visit Doni engaged our long and loving connection with each other. He easily fixed a problem on my lap top while telling me I needed to update my hardware. He was excited about treating me to a gluten free pizza lunch at Udi’s cafe; showing me one of his favorite movies, Across the Universe; playing songs he appreciated; and, inviting me to join his computer geek’s chat room for an interview with a favorite author. I returned from that visit with old concerns but new hope as I took the plunge into his chat room on the 15th and witnessed the camaraderie among the members.
Just days later, Harry and I were staying with the Bulows. They followed the Jewish tradition of “sitting shiva.” -- seven days of staying home, doing nothing of the normal routines of life, while people came to mourn with the family. Three meals a day were brought by community members. The men of their synagogue came to the house for morning and afternoon/evening prayers each day. Others in the community visited, took care of daily needs and housekeeping. Doni’s school mates, friends and teachers came. Family and friends flew in from around the country and Israel to spend a few hours to several days with them.
This ritual container for grief allowed for a deepening and rich process while memories, stories and perspectives were told with ready tears and sometimes, laughter. The caring of the community and the love in the family was palpable. A fuller sense of Doni in his complexity, humor, wonder, helpfulness, computer genius knowledge and interior pain emerged. His mind contained brilliance and illness. Hopefully we will learn more about the functioning of the brain to help people so troubled that the only option they see to end the pain is to end their life.
Hopefully we can reach out to others with compassion and kindness as they deal with family members or themselves living inside complex, unquiet minds which few of us can understand. Hopefully Doni’s life and death can open doors for discussions and help requested and given to those in need. This is what we can do for each other as we hold the preciousness of each day of life.
With deep gratitude for your loving care and prayers,