Judaism has a tradition that on the anniversary of a loved ones death, one lights a candle (known as a Yahrzeit candle).  Since it's a tradition, there are no laws associated with it, so each person chooses their own time to light a candle.  Yahrzeit candles are designed to burn for 24 hours so that they will be lit during the day of morning.

I have a yahrzeit candle burning in my office today, because today would have been my father's 71st birthday, he died six weeks ago on August 14th (of complications related to a bee sting, go figure).

I've avoided writing about it because I've not really known how to express the loss (beyond saying "it sucks"), and I'm not really into public grieving, but I feel it's important to say something right now.

I truly miss my father - we didn't talk much beyond holidays, but it doesn't matter - knowing I could always call him up was enough.  And now I can no longer do that.

It's wierd.  After a death, you go on with your life and everything's just fine, and all of a sudden, the loss really hits home, usually when you don't expect it.  I totally lost it a couple of weeks ago when watching "The Sound of Music" when Christopher Plummer started singing "Edelweiss" (my sister-in-law sang it at Dad's funeral).  Similarly, on Saturday night, while watching "The King and I", I totally lost it at the end - I usually cry at the sad parts of musicals, but this one was personal.  I relate to Prince Chulalongkorn at a totally different level now.

So much of who I am comes from my father - we were so much in common.  There's no question that I got my love for the stage (musicals in particular) from him, and also my interest in photography. 

I so miss the ability to talk with him about whatever - the law, tech, shows - it didn't seem to matter, Dad knew about everything.

I have so many wonderful memories of Dad, and I regret that I won't be able to make any new ones.


So Happy Birthday, Dad.  I miss you.


Comments (24)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I remember when he came to Pgh to visit you, when you were still a lowly student :-). Yes, you two were very, very alike.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He’ll always be alive inside your heart.

    Love to you and Val & the kids.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been there, sorry about your loss

  3. Anonymous says:


    Very sorry for your loss.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give [it] thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." (John 11:21-27)

  5. Rick Schaut says:

    I hate having a rather strong desire to say something pithy while being unable to come up with anything pithy to say. What does one do when one’s been touched by something, and simply saying "I’m touched," seems woefully inadequate?


  6. Esther, we were actually talking about that weekend when we were East for the funeral, since it was the weekend my sister walked for the first time 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Baruch dayan emet. I’m sorry for your loss.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Larry, I know exactly how you feel.

    My dad passed away in March this year, 57 years old. We hadn’t had much contact the last few years, since I moved to another country part, but as you said – there are lots of wonderful memories to keep him with me.

    The two saddest parts, however, I’ve found these to be: My children, 3 and 5, will not grow up with a grandfather (who was a great man) and the older of them, which have met my father quite a bit more than the younger, said last week "Dad, I’m beginning to forget grandfather…" Sad.

  9. MONICA?!!!?!1!

    Oh my. Drop me an email.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Also sorry for your loss… (it’s one I fortunately haven’t suffered yet, being a young idiot)

    … but since I’m overly pedantic: you said that you’re supposed to light them on the anniversary of someone’s death, which would be a year after they died, not the anniversary of their birthday.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with a remembrance on that date either.

  11. Edge says:

    As someone who also recently lost their father (July 4th), I know what you’re going through. In any event, it’s not something I’d wish on another: my condolences on your loss.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Greetings from Spain.


  13. Anonymous says:

    Dear Larry,

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Stevie Wonder lost his brother this year and wrote a wonderful song to deal with it. He performed it live on CNN some days ago. You can watch it here:

    Kind regards,


  14. Jeff Parker says:

    I am sorry for your loss as well Larry, I know just what you are going through, it has been 10 and a half years now since my father died. While I have grieved and got over it there are still days when I sit back and think man would be nice to sit back and have a beer with dad.

  15. Anonymous says:


    I offer my condolences for your loss. The emotion in your post really touched me (I agree with Rick–that doesn’t really express it). Thank you for sharing this personal glimpse.

  16. Drakier says:

    Although 14 other people already beat me to it, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope that the Yahrzeit candle that you light will help bring you comfort and peace.

    You know where to find me if needed.


  17. Anonymous says:

    I wasn’t planning on crying at work today, but it may happen. My mom died of pancreatic cancer a little over 5 months ago and, well, it sucks.

    I was watching Grumpier Old Men a few weeks ago and started crying when Burgess Meredith’s character died. It’s ridiculous, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

  18. Drakier says:

    Although 14 other people already beat me to it, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope that the Yahrzeit candle that you light will help bring you comfort and peace.

    You know where to find me if needed.


  19. Anonymous says:

    Larry dear, that was a beautiful expression of your love for Dad and your sorrow at his passage. You know that he will always be alive for you in your memories and in your heart. It is not a substitute for the ability to see and talk to him, but it does ease the pain of the loss.

    My heart is with you and your sister and brother — I know you are all feeling the loss severly.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings with all of us. Love, Mom

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss, as someone that has lost many a person in my life I can relate somewhat to the pain, though I have not lost a parent yet so to some extent what you are going through is far different from what I have experienced. Since I believe in the emotional healing power of music I will recommend a couple songs, hope they help. The lead singer of Green Day lost his father a year ago and wrote a nice song called "Wake me up when September ends", Warren Zevon died about a year ago and wrote a song while he was dying called "Keep me in your heart", and of course there is the classic "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton. Hope it gets easier and just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog.

  21. Anonymous says:

    >Esther, we were actually talking about that

    >weekend when we were East for the funeral, since

    >it was the weekend my sister walked for the

    >first time 🙂

    Oh! I had a memory of a younger kid there, but wasn’t sure I wasn’t confusing it with the time you and Val came back to Pgh when Daniel was barely a year old(?).

    Thinking of you all often.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Looks like I’m catching this thread pretty late, but Larry I just wanted to let you know that I’m really sorry to hear about your dad. The time comes for us all, but that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens.

    We went through the unexpected death of my wife’s mother (she was young) this summer, and it’s a trying time to say the least. I’m not looking forward to the holidays, but I know that though things will be different we’ll make it through them. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


    (longtime blog reader, occasional commentor)

  23. BRai says:

    Sorry on your loss man! I was deeply touched by your post. He will always be there in your heart!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Very touching post, thanks for sharing this with us.

    Reminds me of the song ‘Leader of the Band’ , our parents live on through us.

Skip to main content