The Kaddish is the Jewish Prayer of Mourning, typically recited at graveside by family with all participants in support.
To date, more than 90,000 Americans and over 300,000 worldwide are confirmed dead from COVID-19. Many of these died in isolation, either alone in quarantine or in mechanical ventilators in ICUs. There has been little time for the dignity or the quiet that we all hope to associate with death.
I have been fortunate. None of my family has been directly affected, although I do know some who have been stricken. I fear that we all have. But no one, no matter how isolated, dies alone and no one shall pass unmourned. As John Donne wrote, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind. Therefore, never send to know for who the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”
Sightless eyes need light.
Soundless ears a voice.
The only noise to join the last wheeze
Is the sigh of the bellows
Pushing air where none will go.
How many souls, Oh Lord?
How fierce the tears?
How weak the heart that waits apart
Detached by safety from
The fleeing spirit?
None die alone.
The world hears each unseen tear.
Each lonely grain of time
Stolen from the earth
Echoes in all hearts
A voice raised in universal prayer.
A sun, or is it the moon, spied at last.
Keith Mankin, May 2020