For All These Things

by Melanie Gruenwald

For all these things

A song by Naomi Shemer

Every bee that brings the honey
Needs a sting to be complete
And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the sweet.

On this fifth secular anniversary of our son, Koby’s (of blessed memory), death—showing up to class was the first thing on my schedule.

I am engaged in Kabbalah Experience’s fourth year course, Core Awareness. This class takes us up back up the tree of life, exploring polarities, and holding opposites. We are exploring transformative awareness practices, which help us live more mindfully and with greater connection to ourselves and one another.


David started the class with this song by Naomi Shemer—For all these things. While the song is, on the surface, about Israel, it was also reverberating in my heart—holding the bitter and the sweet of life and today, in particular.


Life is a funny thing. This contract we have as living beings…. We are born, not by choice, or because we earned it. We are given this gift of life. We just happened to be a few cells that formed into a human. If we’re lucky, we are formed from an act of love. The more we live, the more we love and build connections with others. And, the more we live– the more we learn that we also lose and have heart break and die. We all die. That’s part of the contract of living, too.

It’s all part of the one-ness. It’s all part of holding opposites.

The holding of opposites is not a paradox. Rather, it is a reflection of this one-ness.

Of light and darkness.

Holiness and brokenness.

What is and what should have been.

What is and what still can be.

What we have, as we hold these opposites- is choice. Life can take our breath away and throw us to our knees. And we can choose how we respond to this pain and uncertainty.

I’ve been thinking about what we learned from Koby. Perhaps that will help inform our healing and our actions:

Some of Koby’s lessons–

  • Sing with all your heart.
  • Dance with your whole self.
  • Share kind words, with sincerity and intention.
  • Notice each person.
  • Enjoy each and every bite.
  • Show up.
  • Find things that bring you joy.
  • Let your soul shine.
  • Be vulnerable. Share your vulnerability.
  • Watch ridiculous tv shows. Giggle.
  • Retreat when you need to.
  • Embrace each moment.

As a parent, I engaged the early years tracking my children’s ‘firsts’—Now when I go through photos, I remember ‘lasts.’ We never knew which month, which Shabbat, which night would be our last together. But we held on fiercely to each of these moments. We surrounded ourselves with people, things, and experiences- we couldn’t avoid the inevitable. But we could choose how we lived while Koby was dying.

We each have choices in how we spend our days.How will you show up today for life? How will you hold these opposites.

Our son, Koby, was born November 21, 2004. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma at the age of 11, on March 24, 2016.

The secular date of Koby’s passing is January 19, 2018, which is associated with the Hebrew date of the 3rd of Shevat. The 3rd of Shevat shows up on the secular calendar this year, on January 25th. In this period of ‘in between’, I encourage you to reflect on his life lessons and do an act of service and loving kindness in Koby’s memory. Please let us know what shows up for you.

For the sake of all these things, Lord,
Let your mercy be complete
Bless the sting and bless the honey
Bless the bitter and the sweet.

Guard for me, oh Lord, these treasures
All my friends keep safe and strong,
Guard the stillness, guard the weeping,
And above all, guard this song.

Video production by Koolalam

 

15 Comments

Fran Zamore · January 19, 2023 at 1:27 pm

Melanie, thank you for this beautiful, and heart-wrenching post. On Tuesday, January 24 I will dedicate the meditation I lead to Koby’s memory and to your family’s healing. Sending love, Fran (see you Monday!)

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 19, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks, Fran

Aneesha · January 19, 2023 at 1:39 pm

Thank You Melanie for sharing your journey so publicly. I never had children other than students. I don’t think we ever met in person . I converted to Judaism 2 years before Koby was diagnosed. Your husband was one of my converting rabbis. I participated in your journal, celebrated and cried along the way with so many who love you all. Thank you is a small word felt so largely in the Kallah of our hearts. We step into awareness under the same stars, walk in the same ground…. Mystery encloses us in tenderness of mercy and courage. Thank You.

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 19, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you Annesha

Karen Schultz · January 19, 2023 at 3:32 pm

This is one of the most beautiful tributes that I have been blessed with. I had a hard time enjoying life. Life is always bittersweet. Thank you for sharing. I promise to do an act of kindness in Kodys name. Something important that touch’s the soul.

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 19, 2023 at 4:08 pm

    Thanks, Karen

Anita Khaldy · January 19, 2023 at 6:04 pm

I was so glad to have Koby in my classes. He was such a breath of fresh air. So positive…So full of joy in abundance. He is so missed. He taught me some very good lessons about life…He used to sing the song…Let it be…Let it be…I too find my self singing Koby’s song when I am feeling out of sorts…

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 19, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    Thanks, Anita- Hope you are well

Claudia r Trevithick · January 19, 2023 at 11:41 pm

Your family has been a tabernacle for Koby’s brokenness and wholeness.

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 20, 2023 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you,Claudia

Karen Frankel · January 21, 2023 at 11:37 pm

Melanie,
Thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute about your son Koby- he teaches us so many lessons, gratitude, kindness and ❤️ love! Karen Frankel

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 23, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Thanks,Karen

Anna Bekerman · January 22, 2023 at 10:01 am

Your tribute to Koby is heartfelt, beautiful and inspiring. When I think of Koby I try to hold back my tears. But, they still flow. When I think of his journey on this Earth my heart swells with sadness as well as happiness, thankfulness, joy, and grieving. I believe he brought us to our feet to sing Hallelujah. Yes, Hallelujah. He reminds us to dance. To sing. To experience joys of life and heartbreak. I can hear Koby at Red Rocks singing his heart out feeling the joy of life. And, his dancing. Wow, he sure loved to dance and celebrate with his friends, family and those that didn’t know him personally. He still reached out and held their hands; and celebrated with them. Hallelujah, Hallelujah. When I’m sad I sing and dance and remember loss. Losing those we love is difficult. Thinking about them brings the memories back. The memories that are a blessing. I see Koby’s light that shines above us every day. The stars shine to remind us of his beautiful soul. And, he looks down on us singing Hallelujah. And, he reminds to be thankful, giving, joyful, and to never give up. To keep dancing, dreaming and appreciate the small things in life. Though he taught us how to live, and reach for the stars each and every day. I’m so thankful you and your husband brought him to us. To remind us all the joys and happiness in the lives we live.

    Melanie Gruenwald · January 23, 2023 at 8:44 am

    Thanks,Anna

Kathy Boyle · January 27, 2023 at 8:14 am

Thank you for sharing the beautiful ways of how Koby lived life…a wonderful simple reminder to live in joy and love.

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