Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm a fortunate mourner

This evening at the Mincha/Ma'ariv (afternoon/evening) service, the same person led the prayers for both Mincha and Ma'ariv.  This was a surprise because the Gabbai is very careful to distribute the davening "honors" among the different (male) mourners.  I knew that he saw me, and there were only three mourners in the congregation (we all know who each other are), so I was puzzled when he did not call on me or the third mourner to lead the one of the prayer services.

After the services, I found out the reason.  The mourner who led services was in "Shloshim" (first thirty days after burial of a parent).  But he was already in mourning!  I spoke to him to find out what happened.  First his father died.  A week later his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Six weeks later she died.  He told me she did not have the will to fight the disease.

There are mourners and there are mourners.  I am a regular mourner.  My mother lived 79 years; just slightly below the national average for White females (80.8 in 2008; see http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0105.pdf).  She lived for 19 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, well above the norm of six months.  (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancreatic_cancer)  She lived a full and productive life, working up until a month before she died.  I did not lose her when I was a child, or young adult.  She lived to be at my wedding, dote on and care for my children, attend their bar and bat mitzvahs.

There is a young fellow saying kaddish at shul; his mother died of cancer at age 64.  Too young.  My brother's wife died at age 50 from breast cancer.  Way too young.  A friend of mine's father died of a heart attack when he was 37.  Utterly tragic.  Two weeks ago I wrote about a friend whose parents died within a half a year of each other.  http://mykaddishyear.blogspot.com/2012/07/death-in-family.html  And now there is another who lost both parents in less than two months.  (In a previous post, I noted the hightened statistics of one spouse dying within a year of the other spouse's death; see http://mykaddishyear.blogspot.com/2012/03/my-father-statistics.html)  My father, thank God, is doing better and seems to be regaining his independence following his broken hip.

So it seems that I am in the category of fortunate mourners.

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