There was no “kavod” granted to Keith with a traditional funeral, that would have surely been attended by hundreds of people.
Only nine people were permitted to attend the less than 30-minute graveside service – and my wife was forced to say goodbye to her dad without me by her side.
(Sadly the COVID restrictions appear to allow decision makers to inflict their will on who can attend, however misguided, instead of respecting the wishes of the person who passed.)
After Denise advocated more than once to Benjamin’s funeral chapel, I was allowed to drive her into the cemetery north of Toronto, wait for her to be masked and gloved like all those in attendance, and was then shooed back to the front gate to await the end of the funeral.
Denise was also able to convince the cemetery to allow more than two properly gloved mourners to shovel earth on his casket (the restriction before her intervention) to ensure it was completely covered.
There was no opportunity to engage in the post-funeral rituals – involving copious amounts of food (we are Jewish after all!), the ritual prayers, lots of stories about Keith and of course hugs of comfort from friends and extended family.
I mourned with Denise at home for a week as best we could.
We covered our mirrors with the soapy substance provided by Benjamins. We played no music in our home for a week.
We got up every morning before 7:30 a.m. to pray online as part of the daily minyan with the wonderful Rabbi Landsberg (who married us in a traditional Jewish ceremony in 2010) and Temple Emanu-El. The people online embraced and comforted Denise virtually.
Two evenings after the graveside service, we arranged for a shiva by Zoom – moderated by Rabbi Landsberg. For two hours, several of Denise’s dear friends came online to exchange stories about Keith and to send their condolences.
It was the best we could do under the circumstances.
Despite the heartbreak of not being able to say a proper good-bye, the one wonderful thing I know about Denise is that all her best qualities come from Keith – her loving nature, her generosity, infectious sense of humour and curiosity about the world around her.
Denise will always carry her father within her – and that is the best tribute to a legend.