Today Mom, Dad, Aunt Gail, Tom, and I went to New Montefiore Cemetery in Pine Lawn, New York, for the unveiling of my grandmother Tia, who died a year ago. What follows is the service my mom prepared for her; we read all of the passages out loud.
She is Gone, by David Harkins
You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
Or you can be full of the love that you shared
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
You can remember her and only that she is gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she would want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile
Forget unkind words I have spoken
Remember some good I have done
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I’ve had loads of fun
Forget that I’ve stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day
Then forget to grieve for my going
I would not have you sad for a day
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay
And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best
Sonnet 72, by John Donne
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, 5
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, 10
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Her Journey’s Just Begun
Don’t think of her as gone away,
her journey’s just begun,
Life holds so many facets,
this earth is only one,
Just think of her as resting,
from the sorrows and the tears,
In a place of warmth and comfort,
where there are no days or years,
Think how she must be wishing,
that we could know today,
How nothing but our sadness,
can really pass away,
And think of her as living,
in the hearts of those she touched,
For nothing loved is ever lost,
and she was loved so much.
REMEMBER me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Shema Yisrael adonai elohenu adonai ehud
Baruh shame kavod malhuto layolum va-ed
Hear Oh Israel the Lord is one over all the earth.
Mah tovu oh ha lehah ya-acov
How wondrous it is to dwell in the land of Israel.
Yimloh adonai layolum elohai-ik tzion
L’dor va-dor halleluya
God of the world who brings us to Israel
From generation to generation, praise the lord
Barhu et adonai hamvorah
Baruh adonai hamvorah layolum va-ed
Blessed is the Lord
Blessed is the lord forever and ever
Aleina lisha bayah ladon hacol
It is our duty to praise the Lord, God of all things
Mi camoha ba ayleem adonai
Mi camoha nehdar bar kodesh
Who is like the Lord, most high among the mighty?
For everything there is a season
A time for everything under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die
A time to laugh and a time to cry
A time to lose and a time to seek
A time to be silent and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time for war and a time for peace
God brings everything in its time
Nothing is added, nothing is taken away.
The 23rd Psalm
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
(followed by The Mourner’s Kaddish)