After Rabbi David and I heard Alan's story we just sat for a few moments in silence. Finally I said to him, "Alan is going to be buried on Tu B'Av, The Holiday of Love!" We just looked at each other, knowing this wasn't a coincidence.
Not too many people have heard of Tu B'Av, Jewish or otherwise! It translates as the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av. The "tu" is comprised of the letters tet and vav which together have a numerical value of 15. Since the Hebrew calendar follows the lunar cycle, Tu B'Av always comes during the middle of the Hebrew month which is the time of the full moon. This year the holiday was on August 19th and began the evening before at sundown.
There is such a beautiful energy in the world during Tu B'Av that it is no wonder that is has come to be known as the Holiday of Love! It is considered to be an auspicious time for weddings and engagements.
The Holiday of Love was also the most perfect day for Alan's funeral. For his story is about a family rising above the past to come together in Love to care for him. I cried when I first heard his story and cried throughout the funeral service.
Although Alan had managed to take care of himself for a few years after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, the time came when he could no longer do it alone. His two young adult daughters sought guidance from their mother, Karen, who had been divorced from Alan for 18 years.
Karen called Alan's second former wife, Neuza, and together along with the rest of the family they formed a plan to care for Alan.
"It is the most horrific disease," Karen told me, "for he would gasp for breath 24 hours a day." Alan's suffering was more than heartbreaking but that wasn't why I cried so much. It was the Love from this family that couldn't help but touch my heart.
The Love of two former wives, Karen and Neuza, coming together to provide his care. The Love of Karen's husband who totally supported her as she cared for her ex husband. There were the hours Karen was gone from the house, the financial resources they had to provide, the physical care that was required when for so many months Alan couldn't leave his bed.
The Love of Alan's second former wife, Neuza who came back from Brazil to remarry him and move in with him so she could take care of him during his last months. Of how his care took every last ounce from her emotionally and physically but still she persevered.
The Love of his daughters who spent hours with their father during those last excruciating months. Of just holding his hand when his disease would no longer allow him to speak.
When it came time during the service for the prayer, Eil Malei Rachamin (The One Full of Compassion,) when we ask G-d to help a loved one return Home, I asked that everyone in the packed room radiate Love from their hearts to guide Alan as he took the next step on his soul's journey. The Love was so strong within the room and from Above I shook the whole time I chanted the prayer!
I didn't meet Alan who passed away at the age of 60 but still I thank him for being a catalyst to bring so much Love into the world. For in the end, no matter how it has come, it is Love that brings healing for all us!