(On the suicide of my beloved cousin.)
I think about Hillary every day.
But when I read a question in the the book of Job, the memory of her life leapt into focus.
The question is:
“Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?”
Life can be a rugged experience, like the Alaskan Tundra. Life can be dark, cold and lonely. The pain Hillary felt seemed to go on and on, like the frozen Arctic snow, forever.
Pain, isolation and disease were an ever-present part of Hillary’s life for many years.
But within the bitter cold of the snow, you can find places of beauty and wonder; hiding amidst that frozen earth are things that can bring great joy, if you care to find them.
I thank the living God of Israel that I shared my life with Hillary and she shared her life with me.
In her seasons of suffering and warfare, Hillary and I found joy and love, we experienced adventure, foolishness and laughter.
Mostly at 3:30 in the morning.
Though it hurt to see Hillary afflicted and tormented, her life also possessed great moments of beauty and truth.
The last time we spoke, for over two hours, she was filled with joy.
Hillary and I were like soldiers in a war, and we fought side by side to find life in the midst of death, to discover light in the depths of darkness.
There were times when the noise of the battle faded, and there we were, in the midst of our enemies, as the God of Israel prepared a table just for us.
Hillary and I cried together, laughed together; we studied scripture and reminisced together and Hillary touched my heart and blessed my life with her friendship and her love.
I will always love Hillary with all of my heart. I wanted her to move to Indianapolis and live with me and my family. I wanted her to hold on to life.
I walked with Hillary as far as I could go, and then she left for somewhere far far better than here.
The Tannakh promises, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
It says, “He that goeth forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing with him his sheaves.”
The great Jewish prophet Isaiah declared that our God will “give us beauty for ashes.”
And in Psalm 35, it is written:
“5 Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.
7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”
I know that Hillary is playing in the rivers of pleasure at the throne of God, that she is partaking of the fatness of His house. One day I am going to join her there, for ever, and Hillary and I are going to laugh together again under the wing of the living God of Israel, and marvel at how puny the chains actually were that held us captive in this life.
Just before I left for White Plains, my wife Kathy said, “Hillary might be drinking God’s waters of pleasure but I’m not sure that even God can get her to eat.”
Like our forefather Jacob, Hillary wrestled with a living God. And, like Jacob, she came to a point in her life where she could not go on. Hillary is the beloved child of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; of whom God said through the prophet Micah, “I will cast all of their sins into the bottom of the sea.” A compassionate God who said, “I will remember their sins no more.”
And now Hillary is at home with her God.