Susan Talks About Saying Goodbye with Poetry – A Jewish Mourning Story


So I entered Queens College when I was 17
years old, and I loved poetry very, very much. I read these poems in the college magazine
that just knocked me over, and they were poems by Morton Felix. I just, I didn’t even want to meet this person,
I just wanted to stay in love with him. But, I mean when I did meet him, I went home
and, by then I was 18, and I said to my mother, “this is the person I want to marry.” She said, “don’t even talk that way!” So anyway, we got married at 19. All through our marriage, he always wrote
me poems. Tons of poems. It was great. All the time. I think we had a wonderful marriage. He got to the point where he couldn’t get
out of bed on his own. And he said, “I’ve had such a great life,
and I’ve had such a quality of life, I don’t want this.” And at the end, he said, “I love you,” and
then he said, “thank you,” and then he said, “enough, it’s like Dayenu.” When he passed, there’s a group from our synagogue,
they will come over and prepare the body for burial. They wash the body, and they say prayers,
and they sing, and what we did in our case was we wrapped him in a purple shroud and
put flowers all over the body. Then people from the community came, people
were coming in. He died at home, he absolutely insisted he
wanted to die at home in his own room. People came, and there were a lot of books
of his poetry around, and people just picked up his poetry and spontaneously started reading
his poems. I guess that was the prayers we were offering,
because, and he has poems that are called “prayers,” we were offering his poems as our prayers. It just felt like there was a completion. We kept some of the tradition, and yet it
was our own way of doing things.

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