Magnified and Sanctified

It’s been ten years, Den, and only now do I feel I can say goodbye to you.

You were sixty three, I was sixty one. You died on Friday night. Your son brought the news to us at our shabbat table.

We buried you on the Sunday. We laid you to rest at an odd corner of the Jewish burial ground, beneath a young gum tree. I looked at the tree at that time and I remembered Dad’s fear of falling gums. I thought, here you are again, going against Dad’s prudent judgement. And I smiled.

You lie now, beyond the judgement of humans. Many were the people who judged you, fewer were those who tried to walk a mile in your shoes. They were big shoes.  Like everything about you, very big. Magnified, sanctified… People who did understand loved you extravagantly, in proportion to your extravagant life.

And now I can let you go. From the time of our final conversation I dreamed of you. The dreams were dreams of helplessness. You could not help yourself, I needed to help, I tried to help, but in those dreams, I could not. You called me that last time. The phone woke me from a dreamless sleep. Your speech rustled and crackled, the sweetness of your voice ruined by seven days with the breathing tube. You had rallied, they’d removed the tube; now, with your breathing failing, they needed to replace it. Your voice crackled: ‘Doff, they want to put the tube back. What should I say?’

I heard your breathing, a rasping, gasping sound. ‘Do as they say Den.’

‘Is it my best chance?’

‘Den, it’s your only chance.’

They returned you to your coma and they replaced the tube. Three days later you breathed your last.

At the cemetery we said, magnified and sanctified be the holy name.

One evening during the week of shiva my son led the prayers in honour of his uncle. He loved you Den. We loved you.

For ten years I dreamed of you, restless dreams, frantic. I was unable to help. Then I started writing about you and the dreams stopped. Now I sleep without the dreams. Sleep in peace beneath your gum tree, Den.

8 thoughts on “Magnified and Sanctified

  1. I remember the many times Dennis phoned you at work and he would always have time to have a chat with me before I put his call through to you Howard. I also remember his bulky frame, but most of all I remember his smile. I am with my daughter and grand-daughter in Norhern Spain, walking the Camino de Compostello…..we walk with memories of our departed loved ones….and we walk seeking the way for ourselves. Pat


  2. Very beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes and memories of all my loved ones now gone.

    I thought you may like read this poem by the great poet Kevin Gilbert. It’s words are engraved on a rock by my dear father’s resting place in the bush outside of Braidwood in NSW:

    Kevin Gilbert

    Weep not for me for Death is
    but the vehicle that unites my soul
    with the Creative Essence, God.
    My spiritual Being, my love, is
    still with you, wherever you are
    until forever.
    You will find me in quiet moments
    in the trees, amidst the rocks,
    the clouds and beams of sunshine
    indeed, everywhere for I, too, am
    a part of the total essence of
    creation that radiates everywhere
    about you eternally.
    Life after all is just a
    passing phase


    • Dear magpie

      Your lines of verse moistened my own eyes, just as your gesture in making contact lifted me

      So affirming when a perfect stranger reaches out like this

      And if you are indeed the magpie supporter i hope you are then you are the MOST perfect type of stranger


      Liked by 1 person

    • No, my gumwhispering friend, Dennis’s is a slender trunk rising and bending above his grave

      It’s very good to have your reaction: I think you’re right

      After a loss we carry on but we are reduced
      Life is smaller

      Then a new baby might arrive and that is a remedy

      The only remedy we have



      Liked by 1 person

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