Thursday, November 09, 2006

I mourned for my friends child

I Mourned

In literature, there is a skill to naming characters. One writer says

The first step in naming your characters is to know them. Names make impressions. That's why you should think long and hard over them. You want your readers to remember your characters' names long after they've finished reading the book. But before you can name your characters, you must know them inside and out. Create a thorough outline on each one. Analyze what motivates them, what makes them who they are.”

The name defines the person. It makes the character real. Sometimes the character is a protagonist and you don’t want your readers to sympathize. It’s hard to sympathize with a nameless character.

I have known Chaim Schwartz* for over a year now. We became friendly through a mutual acquaintance. He lost a child sometime within the last few years. We become friends and the fact that we both lost children permeated the air but was seldom discussed. We saw each other a number of times and spoke on the phone. I was embarrassed when someone asked me what his child’s name was or how his child passed away. I was embarrassed at myself for not having the answers. I was surprised that I had forgotten such an important part of Chaim’s life. We had spoken about grief but never about his child.

Recently we were together at an event which was geared towards bereaved parents. Someone spoke about the importance of saying the name of the deceased child. Chaim confided in me that he rarely says the name, even at home. “It is like a stake in the heart.” he said. Someone said,” It keeps the memory of the child alive”. Throughout the course of the event, that idea motivated Chaim to speak of his son and his death. His son’s was Zalmy* and he died from the “machla”. I don’t recall having ever heard his name spoken before.

That is when I mourned. I mourned for the child of my friend. Until now, he was a nameless, faceless concept. His child was a tragedy. A nightmare but not a person. Now Zalmy was a child whose precious life was taken of him by a disease with a name. I mourned for that child and mourned for my friend, Chaim. Until now I knew in my mind that Chaim had lost a child but now I looked at him as a bereaved father bereft of his son. I mourned for him and saw, for the first time, the pain and anguish. I saw his emptiness and I saw his courage. To take on the mundane aspects of everyday life takes courage. I mourned for him and I continue to mourn for him as a friend and fellow bereaved father.


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Anonymous Donald @ Israel said...

It's nice he could pronounce his name. My father's friend lost his son at the age of 15. It was an accident. About 10 years have passed but he still cries when he mentions his name.

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My Goal is to post at least 2x per week on Sunday and Wednesday.