. . . is an amazing thing.
One of the most important mitzvahs my husband performs is being present as someone is moving from this life into the next. He witnesses something extraordinary as he helps the person with vidui or says it for them. One of the things I find the most remarkable is the ability of a person to hold off death until my husband arrives. Even if they are not lucid or conscious, somehow, they know he is there. His presence I think gives them permission to die. In some very tragic cases, his presence assures the dying person that their loved ones, sometimes small children, whom they are leaving behind, will be taken care of. I don’t know where he gets the strength and emotional fortitude to perform this mitzvah. When we lived in NYC, he used to be one of many who served on a hevra kadisha, and he would stay with a body saying tehilim or be a part of the ritual washing. It was, and is, beyond me how he did this. This is a fairly depressing post, but our young family community in our synagogue is suffering the loss of a wonderful woman, wife, and mother. In the presence of this woman, her sisters, mother, husband and yes, 7-year old daughter, Mr. EK has the courage and strength of a mountain so that all of these people can lean on him, and so she can finally let go knowing her family is safe. She wanted to wait until she was home, surrounded by loved ones, and she did. It is intensely tragic and intensely uplifting (in a spiritual way) at the same time. I am in awe, in every single sense of that word, and I am humbled.