I did not get to say goodbye to my father before he took his own life on Monday, April 20, 2015. The following are the words I shared at his funeral on Thursday, April 23, 2015. A daughter’s farewell to her dad, Lowell Jay Herman. May his memory be for an eternal & abiding blessing.
Many years ago my father used to love to do paint by numbers. He would look at that canvas, plain, white, devoid of color & life and slowly he would fill in those blank spaces. As he did more paintings, he grew comfortable adding his own personal touches, changing the hues, the shades envisioning in his own mind what he wanted to create.
In recent months, my father began to see things in darkened & muddled shades of gray. Searching for the clarity he would need to lift the clouds, to find the sun and to bask in the beauty, the color, the life & love that filled his world.
Today, we too stand in a shroud of darkness. We want answers, we want understanding, and we want one more moment, one more chance to say, “I love you.” To ask him to hold on just a little longer & to remind him that things would get better.
So many here know that my family & I were estranged for 6 years. It is a painful chapter in our history, but it was not the final footnote. We found our way to healing, to reconciliation and to wholeness. And we discovered that through all of the pain and sadness we endured, underneath it all was an abiding and unbroken love.
I never once took for granted the ability to pick up the phone and speak to my father. To share joyous news, or to seek comfort during darker days. To celebrate a simcha and to look ahead at all of the goodness we had in store.
In one of our final conversations, my father told me that though he would never have wished for what we endured, he did believe that in fact, it had somehow made us stronger. We loved each other with more openness, more understanding, more acceptance, and more compassion and with the knowledge that we were strongest in our broken places. My father told me in that conversation that in fact he saw me as more than a daughter, but truly as a friend.
And so today, my mother must say goodbye to her husband & soulmate, a man with whom she would have celebrated 50 years of marriage this June. My brother & I, alongside our spouses Jody & Fred, as much like children to him as his own, must say goodbye to our father & our friend. And our children, his 6 grandchildren, Yael, Leora & Noa, Justin, Casey & Carly, must say goodbye to the grandfather who loved them beyond measure and who felt such pride in the young women & the young man they had become. And our hearts ache with a sadness I cannot put words to.
Daddy-I promise you that we will not live in the darkness, though we must journey through it. We will reflect on the life you lived, the laughter you shared, the memories we made and the moments that make us smile. We will honor how you lived, as we grapple with how you died. And slowly, bit by bit and day by day—just as you did with the paint by numbers, we will fill in the colors. We will bask in the warm hues, the rich tones and the vibrant picture of the husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, family man & friend you were. And it is that picture we will carry with us for the rest of our days.
Goodbye daddy. I love you so very much and I will love you forever. I pray you are at peace now.