A tradition in Jewish worship: The Mourners’ Kaddish.

In Aramaic, it’s the prayer that Jews say as we remember the dead. Every day. The more observant say it three times each day (as far as I know).

It’s a reaffirmation of the cycle of life, a statement that life is good, that — despite the death of our loved ones — this is still the Best Case Scenario.

I’ve said Kaddish for my own loved ones, of blessed memory, and stood with others who are saying it for theirs.

But it’s always been a strange mystery to me. I understand the words and the idea — praying for the dead is respectful. But where’s the meaning for me? That, I have never understood.

Then, Suddenly, Last Week It Came To Me
It struck me, all at once, as I stood saying Kaddish yet again.

I realized, for the first time:

Everyone in the world is in either one of two buckets:

1. Those who will predecease me. I might say Kaddish for them.

2. Those who I will predecease. They might say Kaddish for me.

My wife.

My children.

My mother.

My sisters.

Their husbands.

Their children.

My friends.

My friends.

All my friends.

Each of us must lose another. All of us must go before another.

Now, perhaps, finally, I understand Kaddish. At 49 years old, for the first time.

Whatever Your Form of Kaddish
However you — in your own tradition, or lack of tradition — remember your loved ones…whether you call it “Kaddish” or something else…

Any meaningful relationship must include the recognition that one of us must survive the other.

Either I will say Kaddish for you.

Or you for me.

So what brought this on?
Worship, yes. But I was moved also by this essay on his parents by Christopher Buckley, given to me by my mother.