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Common Ground


We enter the house and there are women in the kitchen talking of husbands, kids and summer camps while they gesture with slender fingers and wrists. There are men, attending to cutting and schmearing bagels for their hungry young sons dressed in cartoon tee shirts and their daughters dressed in tie-dye and leggings. There is a discovery of a box of chocolate donuts in which the children proceed to open and break the contents into halves.

Another day at another time, we enter a different home with a group of people situated on soft recliners and sofas. The attendees spill out onto other living spaces, once again the kitchen and dining area. There is no room, yet there is always plenty of room.  

No party here, not even close. We are sad, we are solemn, we are here to pay our respects for a loved one who has passed on — and it seems as if this task never gets any easier.

I notice that in either visit there are a few initial seconds in which I don't really know what to do or where to go, stand or sit. I am grateful that there will be an opportunity to express my condolences, but if I am initially quiet listening to stories told of the dearly departed that I never knew before. Inevitably I gravitate to all the wondrous photos — not of least include the beloved's smiling face — captured in pictures throughout the rooms.

And then it hits me. Despite the directions in my GPS, this could be anywhere in the world. The attendees are different but the process remains unchanged. We eat. We drink. We express condolences, share stories, offer prayer. The experience is a constant: a stark reminder that we vulnerable humans all share common ground when it comes to the circle of life and death, no matter who we are, where we are or where we came from.

And for one brief moment we are one, honoring the one who has touched our lives.

A contributing writer to the Herald since 2012, Lauren Lev is an East Meadow resident and a direct marketing/advertising executive who teaches advertising and marketing communications courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, LIU Post and SUNY Old Westbury.