“I don’t know,” you said, “There’s a big pile of mail I have to get to. Besides, my therapy group is that weekend.” Then you added, “Mazal tov, you guys are so right for each other; I’m really happy for you!”
“Did you get my email?” I said. “I wanted to invite you to my birthday party.”
“I never got it,” you said, “there’s a problem with my computer.”
“There’s always a problem with your computer,” I said. “Maybe we can figure it out and fix it.”
“I don’t know,” you said. “It’s complicated.”
“Did you get my phone message?” I said. “I had a free evening and wanted to see if you’d like to go to the movies.”
“I don’t know,” you said. “I think my voice mail box was full.” Then you added, “That would have been nice.”
Two days ago after the funeral when we all got together at Bob’s to share stories, I was amazed. How could we be friends for 45 years — 45 years Marv! — and still you were so hidden from me? I never knew about the women in your life, relationships that almost happened. I never knew how you lead walking tours through San Francisco neighborhoods, where you shared your detailed knowledge of the history and geography of the city. I never knew how, as you were living very sparely yourself, you were the investment manager for the wealth of your parent’s estate. And I never knew that you inherited a nice San Francisco house, but chose instead to stay in your cluttered, cramped apartment.
It turns out that none of us there at Bob’s really knew much about you. But when we all got together and talked, we could begin to see the bigger picture.
You enjoyed it when we all got together. If this had been someone else’s funeral, you’d have been there, smiling a little, listening deeply, noticing and sharing stuff that was hidden from the rest of us. But you yourself would have stayed in the shadows.
Ironically at your own funeral, in the presence of your family and friends, you stepped out of the shadows and became more visible.
For the next month I’m saying kaddish for you Marv, the way I said kaddish for my parents and brother, standing on my deck overlooking the ocean. This morning I could see you in front of me, listening deeply to my words and to my heart. The mail, email and phone lines are all working fine.