Sunday, April 30, 2006

The "Missing Child" Formation--for Elie and Debbie, Aaron's parents, on his unveiling

Aaron's story is here.

In the U.S. Air Force
sometimes, when someone dies
A squadron of fighter jets flies
over the cemetery during the burial
in the "Missing Man" Formation
A squadron flying as if with five fighter jets
but with a gap in the formation,
one fighter jet conspicuously missing
in honor of the deceased

Aaron's family is now flying in the "Missing Child" Formation
and always will be

It was just a headache
or two, or three, or four,
or more
And he couldn't hold his head straight
Time to see a doctor
It was just a pinched nerve and a little scoliosis
Later, after a trip to a chiropractor
Into a neck brace went the 18-year-old

But the neck brace didn't help
The pain didn't abate
Okay, this is serious
Let's find out what this is all about
So we can have it taken care of, right away

A brain tumor?
What do you mean?
How could that be?

A trip to the hospital for an MRI

And finally, after an awful night
the dreaded, dreadful news from the doctor



How do you tell your other children
That their brother,
who just went in for an MRI
is already brain dead?

Shock, denial, grief


and over

But please, please
No guilt

Not even the doctors had a clue
And, in any case, there would never have been anything that they could do
You did everything that good parents should, or would, or could possibly do

I would offer words of consolation,
but what words could possibly console?

HaMakom y'nachem etchem
May "The Place" comfort you

as I cannot

"The Place"

and the place

that Aaron holds in your hearts, your souls,
your memories,

that you hold in your hearts for your other children,
and that they hold in their hearts for you,

that people who care hold in their hearts
for Aaron
and for his family, too
People who tried to help you get through this
People who are there for you

HaMakom y'nachem etchem

That's the best that I can hope to do



Blogger Elie said...

Shira: That was unbelievable. As there are no adequate words of consolation, there are no adequate words of thanks either, but I will say it anyway, from the heart: Thanks.

Sun Apr 30, 11:40:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Eloquent Shira,

You took my breath away. You found the words.


Sun Apr 30, 11:01:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...


Very lovely!

An act of true friendship and nechuma!

I am,

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

Sun Apr 30, 11:15:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Elie, I tried to find the right words for this reply, but I don't know what to say. May your memories of Aaron be a blessing.

Esther and Alan Avrum, thank you.

Sun Apr 30, 11:47:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Well done.

Mon May 01, 03:38:00 AM 2006  
Blogger torontopearl said...

Your words are so poignant; the imagery of the missing jet in the formation is so apt. Beautifully written and conveyed sentiments.

Tue May 02, 01:32:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Ezzie said...

;'( Shira, that was amazing. I just dropped a couple tears, excuse me...

Tue May 02, 02:06:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

TorontoPearl and Ezzie, thanks for your kind words.

I don't know quite what to say to everyone who's commented. I hoped that my words would convey both sadness and a little consolation. I guess they do.

Tue May 02, 09:01:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your words also convey talent. Do you write professionally?

Tue May 02, 07:35:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Esther, thank you for your encouraging words. I edit like mad, both professionally, as secretary for special projects, and as a volunteer synagogue bulletin editor. But I never thought of myself as a writer until I saw that link on the sidebar of Eliyahu's blog. I was not only flattered, I was stunned. It's never even occurred to me to try writing professionally.

TorontoPearl, I have absolutely no idea how I came up with that "Missing Man" Formation comparison, but the whole poem started with that. It just seemed to fit, unfortunately.

Wed May 03, 02:04:00 AM 2006  

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