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Unveiling My Brother’s Headstone

A Journey of Gratitude and Healing

Seven and a half months since we laid my brother Craig to rest, our family and friends gathered once again in the serene embrace of the forest. This time, it was for unveiling his headstone, a ceremony steeped in Jewish tradition and deep emotional significance. It was a day of reflection, remembrance, and reverence to honor Craig’s life and legacy.

 

Before sharing this experience, let’s take a moment to look back to that late autumn day when the leaves of fiery hues gently descended from the trees. The sky was dressed in a perfect blue, and the sun’s golden rays pierced through the canopy like a celestial searchlight.

It was a day of profound significance, the day we bid farewell to my dear brother in a unique and significant way.

 Surrounded by family and friends, we gathered around the open grave, where a simple pine box awaited its solemn descent into the raw earth. Like whispered confetti, the leaves fluttered down in a gentle dance around us, paying their respects to a soul departing this world.

 

With its ancient wisdom and timeless beauty, the forest offered the perfect setting for his farewell. It provided us solace and a sense of continuity in the face of our grief. As we watched the leaves descend and listened to the wind’s whispering embrace, we were reminded that life, like the seasons, is a cycle—a continuous journey of transformation and renewal.

 

In the late autumn forest, amidst the rain of leaves and the loving presence of family and friends, we said our goodbyes to my brother. It was a farewell that transcended the ordinary, a tribute to the natural world’s enduring beauty and the soul’s eternal journey.

The Unveiling Ceremony: A Day of Reflection

We returned to that sacred forest on an early summer day. The season had changed, and the forest was now vibrant with new life, echoing the cycle of renewal that Craig so profoundly cherished. The sky, heavy with clouds, provided a cloak of embrace to our presence.

 

Gathered around the veiled headstone, we took a moment to dwell upon the time that had passed without Craig. The woods offered a perfect setting for our reflections. As we stood in silent contemplation, we felt the profound impact of Craig’s life and the void left by his absence.

 

The ceremony began with the Rabbi offering words of comfort and reflection. He spoke about the enduring nature of memory and the importance of coming together as a community to honor those who have passed. His prayers and words set a tone of reverence and unity, reminding us of the strength of shared remembrance.

 

Craig’s sister, June, recited Margaret Mead’s poem “Remember Me,” which captured the essence of Craig’s spirit and our deep connection with him. This poem is significant because it speaks to the enduring presence of loved ones in our hearts, even after they have passed. June’s voice, filled with emotion, brought tears to our eyes as she painted a vivid picture of her brother’s vibrant life and the boundless love he spread to all who knew him.


As June finished her recitation, the gentle strains of Paul Simon’s song “Wait” from his new Seven Psalms album began to play. “Wait” is a song that beautifully intertwines themes of death and hope. Its message conveys that even though we may not fully understand what lies beyond, we can approach death with courage and grace. The song suggests that comfort can be found in the love of our dear ones and the belief that something better awaits us on the other side. The music filled the forest, creating an atmosphere of introspection and serenity.

 

Craig’s mother, Elaine, shared a heartfelt remembrance of her son. She spoke of the profound absence left by his passing but emphasized the joy and love he radiated, which filled her life with warmth and happiness. She concluded by saying,

“Craig, my sweet boy, you are forever loved and remembered. May this headstone stand as a testament to your beautiful soul.”

As Elaine’s words resonated in the stillness of the forest, it was clear that each of us carried our memories and reflections of Craig. The deep bond of family and the shared experiences of grief and love brought us closer in that moment. Following Elaine’s poignant tribute, I stepped forward to share my journey of grief and the profound lessons learned through the loss of both my son and my brother.

 

My Speech: A Tribute to Craig and Sam

Grief is a powerful emotion. It feels like a weight too heavy to bear, a storm that never ends. When I lost my son, Sam, I was engulfed in that storm. The pain was immense, and it seemed as though the light had vanished from my life. But amid this darkness, I discovered something profound—a gift that Sam had left me, a gift that would become my beacon through the shadows.

 

After Sam passed away, his spirit began imparting profound spiritual wisdom, forever altering my path. His guiding light has remained a constant in my life, bestowing me the gift of a spiritual awakening. This awakening wasn’t an abrupt revelation but a deeply emotional journey unfolding gradually, like a delicate flower blooming. As I learned to connect with Sam’s presence in a new, ethereal way, I discovered a sense of peace and purpose I had never known.

 

As I embraced this spiritual connection, I found myself transforming. While my grief was still present, it was now accompanied by gratitude. I am grateful for my time with my son, the beautiful memories we created, and the profound lessons he continues to teach me. This gratitude has become my anchor, helping me navigate the pain and find precious moments of peace and joy.

 

Then, when my brother was nearing the end of his life, just days before his passing, this spiritual awakening became even more significant. I could be there for Craig in a way I couldn’t have imagined before Sam’s passing. I felt a profound sense of calm and purpose, knowing that Craig, like Sam, was about to embark on a magnificent journey beyond this physical realm.

 

In those final days, I shared the comfort and insights I had gained with him. I spoke to him about the eternal nature of our souls, the connections that never fade, and the love that remains unbroken by the boundaries of this physical world. We found solace in knowing that the essence of our brotherhood would remain intact, guiding and comforting us in ways beyond our comprehension. In those sacred moments, our spirits intertwined, creating a legacy of love that would forever illuminate our paths, no matter where our journeys led.

 

Through this experience, I learned that gratitude is not just about being thankful for the good times but also about finding meaning and beauty amid sorrow. It’s about recognizing the gifts our loved ones leave behind—the lessons, the love, and the spiritual insights that can guide us through our darkest days.

 

Today, as we gather, I encourage you to embrace gratitude for those who have passed before us. Honor their memories by cherishing your shared moments and finding the gifts they bestowed upon us. Whether it’s a spiritual awakening, a lesson in love, or a simple, comforting presence, these gifts are their way of remaining with us, guiding us, and helping us grow.

 

Gratitude can transform grief into a journey of healing and discovery. It allows us to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost and find solace in knowing they are still with us. We can keep their memories alive through gratitude and continue feeling their love and guidance.

 

But more than that, gratitude serves as a bridge between worlds, connecting us to the eternal essence of our loved ones. It encourages us to look beyond the physical absence and embrace the spiritual presence that continues to impact our lives. In every cherished memory, every lesson learned, and every moment of silent communion, we discover the threads of their love woven into the fabric of our existence.

 

So, as we gather here today to unveil this headstone, let us vow to carry forward this profound spirit of gratitude. Let us hold Craig’s memories close to our hearts, cherishing every precious moment we shared and the invaluable lessons he imparted. By doing so, we honor his beautiful legacy and ensure that his love and light continue to guide and inspire us. This unveiling is not just a physical commemoration but a profoundly emotional reaffirmation of our unbreakable bond and the eternal presence of Craig’s spirit in our lives.

 

A Conclusion:

With my speech concluded, we moved to unveil the headstone, a moment that held a deep significance for all of us gathered. The headstone, crafted from pink granite discovered by Heather, Craig’s wife, at Mount Desert Island in Maine, was chosen with love and care, symbolizing the lasting bond we all share with Craig.

 

As the covering was gently removed, revealing the headstone, it stood as a testament to Craig’s life and legacy, blending beautifully with the serene forest backdrop. The granite’s natural hues echoed the earth’s timeless beauty, much like the qualities Craig embodied in his life.

 

The inscription on the headstone read:

CRAIG S GORDON MAR 9, 1960 - NOV 1, 2023 PHOTOGRAPHER ONE LOVE

These words encapsulated his essence—a creative soul, a loving spirit, and a person whose passion for photography captured the world’s beauty through his unique lens on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

This headstone, more than just a marker of his final resting place, serves as a lasting tribute to the remarkable individual Craig was. It’s a place where we can remember him, reflect on the joyful moments we shared, and feel his spirit’s enduring presence. The headstone, with its thoughtful inscription and the story behind its creation, reminds us of the deep love and connection that continues to bind us all, even in his absence.


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