May You Be Inscribed in the Book of Life

This poem is in the spirit of a belated Rosh Hashanah and an approaching Yom Kippur. It is said during the New Year, “May you be inscribed in the book of life.” This is something I recently learned, and I now use it when thinking of my Grandpa who passed. Anyway, I held a burden until I recently visited him and having the opportunity to talk to him was liberating and freeing. I am so full of love and so reassured that he is living forever.

It is during the high holy days,
That I often think of my Grandpa.
I miss his presence, his wit.
I miss him.
And yet I know he is forever with me.
I say to him:
May you be inscribed in the book of life.

When I think of my Grandpa,
I feel overwhelming love, happiness.
I also feel great remorse,
Tremendous guilt.

I was only 15 when he died,
and I remember being told –
The shock.
Not a single tear fell.
And I was confused,
Because I knew I was sad,
but I couldn’t feel a thing.

It wasn’t until the funeral came,
and we entered the home,
and walked to his wooden coffin.
And I stood overtop of him
and I leaned over,
And it came out.
I cried and I cried.
And I stepped back.

Then I noticed it,
and I don’t know if anybody else did.
A string. A rope.
I suppose tzitzit.

It was there,
a piece of my Grandpa
and I felt like he was saying goodbye
but I also felt like I should say something.
But I was afraid,
So I didn’t.

And after the ceremony ended,
and we drove to the cemetery.
I watched as he was lowered into the ground.
And I didn’t say anything.
It haunted me.
Would he not have not have life,
in the world to come
because he was not completely there?
Is it my fault that I let him go,
Incompletely?

But then he was gone,
and I saw him in my nightmares,
and I saw him in my dreams.
And I spoke to him,
In the clouds
And the in the stars
And before bed.

But I didn’t visit him for a long time,
and when I did,
I saw his grave,
His perpetual care –
I flashed back to the moment
where I saw the coffin drop lower
and the tzitzit hang free.
And I cried.

I cried and I spoke to him,
Because I saw him.
And he was whole,
Despite the fact that I didn’t tell.
And my guilt was resolved.
and I knew that he loved me,
and that I haven’t let him down.
And I knew that he is alive.
So I placed a stone on his grave,
knowing his name is inscribed,
In the book of life.

-cdk

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