Monday, January 11, 2010

(word origin)
O.E. bereafian "rob," from be + reafian "rob, plunder," from P.Gmc. *raubojanan. A common Gmc. formation (cf. Du. berooven, Ger. berauben, Goth. biraubon). Since c.1650, mostly in ref. to life, hope, loved ones, and other immaterial possessions. Past tense forms bereaved and bereft have co-existed since 14c., now slightly differentiated in meaning, the former applied to loss of loved ones, the latter to circumstances.
Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian.

For the last week I have been feeling this acutely. Our friend Jacob was killed last Monday night in a tragic, horrific accident. We found out on Tuesday when we had lunch with Gudren who asked if we'd heard what happened.

When she said the words, "Jacob was killed last night." I had one of those moments where I completely disconnected and although they registered I refused to believe that they were true. Because I didn't want them to be true, because they couldn't be true.

Jacob was one of those people who was so completely present and joyful in every moment that it is impossible to grasp that his spirit could be extinguished. Just the day before he had come up in a conversation we were having about emotional intelligence. He might not have been the smartest guy about some stuff, but he was full to the brim with emotional intelligence.

He was born and raised in Israel and he had served in Shayetet 13 of the IDF. He moved to the US and married an American girl and they adopted two kids, who had a bit of a rough start, but who were very blessed to end up with Jacob and his wife. He was a contractor who did excellent work in marble, tile and granite and the buildings and civic centers he worked on span Southern California.

None of that really expresses the essence of Jacob though - he was one of those people who lived life full out all the time. To talk with Jacob was to make a connection, even if it was just 10 minutes. He was completely, 100% real - all the time. He was philosophical and loved to discuss human behavior. He was onto himself which doesn't mean that he did everything right, it just means that he knew himself and he was comfortable with the man that he was so he could accept and appreciate everyone else where ever they might be.

He truly lived out loud and had the very best time. Every year he had a giant 4th of July party with a ton of people, live music and fireworks. Not fireworks as I've always thought about them - sparklers in the street and a couple of cones that blow different colored showers - but fireworks that you are more likely to see at a park. The kind of show with aerial explosions that the fire department supervises. These things were launched straight up from a wooden structure a little ways down the street and they exploded high over our heads as we sat in lawn chairs and on towels on the neighbor's lawns and sidewalks. The whole neighborhood was there so no one was going to call and tell.

He was a force of nature whose aim was to have a good time and find the happiness in every experience, in every moment.

And now he is gone. His death is so much more tragic because it didn't have to happen. Last week he picked up a container full of granite from India at the port and took it up to his yard. He and his employees were unloading the 5 tons of granite and he went into the container (if only he hadn't). The load was secured only by a couple of nails (if only he'd checked). There was a shift of weight which caused the 5 tons of granite to move crushing Jacob against the wall of the container (if only he'd been able to get out of the way).

Rescue was called but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Then they had to wait for a crane to come to lift the load off of his body.

It is a cruel irony that this man whose spirit was indomitable and ebullient despite the harsh economic realities that have us all bowed, who was happy no matter how bad things got, was literally crushed.

And he's gone.