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I was thumbing through a book that belonged to my late friend, Larry Hurtado. It is a Daily Prayer book, revised with Hebrew text and interpretation. He had placed a bit of paper on one page as a bookmark and underlined much of one of the paragraphs. It is a well known story from the Talmud and, according to the author, supplies the key to understanding the Kaddish.
Rabbi Meir lost both of his sons in one day. It was a Sabbath afternoon when he was at the House of Learning. His wife Beruria did not tell him about it on his return home because she did not want to sadden his Sabbath-joy. So she waited until evening and then approached her husband with a question: “I have a question to ask of you. Some time ago a friend gave me some jewels to keep for him. Today he demands them back. What should I do?” Rabbi Meir responded, “I cannot understand why you are asking me such a question. Of course, return the jewels.” It was at this moment that she took his hand and led him to the room where their children lay dead. “These are the jewels,” she said, “that I must return.” Rabbi Meir wept out the words of Job: “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken; blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
It has been almost a year since our son, Daniel, died of an aggressive and rare form of cancer, August 2, 2019. Less than four months later, my friend and mentor, Larry Hurtado died of leukemia. November 25, 2019. Less than three weeks later, my wife’s mother died. December 13, 2019. In 2019 we had to return the jewels loaned to us. I wonder how long it took for Rabbi Meir to bless the God who gives and who takes. He was a better man than me. I’m having a hard time with it.
Here is my Facebook post of October 11, 2019.
Ten weeks ago today our adult son, Daniel Capes, died of a rare form of cancer. He was 36 years old. Here is one of my favorite pictures of Daniel and his son, Tobias Alexander Capes. The occasion was the wedding of our oldest son, Bryan Capes to Carolina Valera Capes. Daniel’s mom and I are incredibly proud of how wonderful a father he always was to Toby. Toby turned 5 years last Sunday.
Son, we miss you. I hope you know that. You turned out to be an amazing young man and father. We loved seeing you with Toby and will treasure the pictures and memories we have. We could not be more pleased with the person you are and will always be.
Here is my Facebook of October 4, 2019.
One of the most thoughtful gifts Daniel Capes and Jenel Capes ever gave us was this bronze plaque for the garden. It reads “Capes Garden EST. 1977.” That is the year Cathy and I married. The bronze has weathered, but it still decorates our garden.
Nine weeks ago today our son, Daniel, died of a rare form of cancer. He was 36 years old. Our garden still exists but there is a hole in the middle of it where once a great, strong tree stood.
Son, we miss you. You and your brothers are and always will be the stars of our garden. Thank you and Jenel for the gift many years ago. Daniel, we hope you are enjoying exotic gardens under a swift sunrise.
Here is my Facebook post of October 2, 2019, two months to the day after my son died.
What can you do with a cracked pot? Well, here is a good example. My sister-in-law, Laurie, made this for us. The big pot is important because we bought two of them to decorate the chapel where Daniel and Jenel married 13 years ago. The concrete pots held two great ferns. We kept the one pot. When it cracked, we were ready to discard it until Laurie had an idea how to fix it.
Our son, Daniel Capes, died two months ago today, leaving a son, a widow, and a grieving family. His death has cracked our lives wide open. I suppose we are all cracked pots in one way or another. Some more serious than others. We all need someone like Laurie to fix us.
Son, we miss your kindness, your jokes, your smile and all your ways. You and your brothers are and always will be our treasure.
Here is my Facebook post of September 27, 2019, about eight weeks after my son died.
I love this picture of my wife, Cathy, and my middle son, Daniel Capes. Eight weeks ago today Daniel died. He was 36 years old. Daniel had this amazing smile that lit up a room and made me smile any time I saw it. On the day this picture was taken we learned that my daughter-in-law, Carolina Valera Capes, was going to have a baby. The child was born in June 2017. CupCake, as I like to call her, is now 2 years and 3 months old. She is great gift to our family. Son, I miss your smile and your presence in our lives. No room will ever be as bright again.