Apr. 19th, 2017

Eulogy

Apr. 19th, 2017 10:09 pm
gina_r_snape: me as drawn by pennswoods (Default)
Today was the funeral. It was beautiful and well-attended. I remain floored by the outpouring of love and support. Afterwards, we went to Veselka and I indulged in some challah french toast and a mimosa. And some gentle teasing with my brother Michael (you'll see why).

Here is the eulogy I gave today:

Greetings.

And for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Gina and Taras was my husband.

As I am not Ukrainian, and I am not Catholic, but Jewish, I thank this Church and the members of this community and ask that you forgive my lack of knowledge regarding your traditions. But as my mother-in-law Tekla is fond of frequently reminding me, Jesus and his disciples were Jewish and we are of the same God.

In the Jewish tradition we recite the mourner’s Kaddish when someone passes. Death is never mentioned in that prayer. Rather, the words are meant as a way to not turn away from God in anger or hate or hopelessness at the loss of a loved one, but rather to praise and be thankful for what we have been given. That while loss and sorrow exist, it is faith and goodness that prevail.

In that light, I wish to express my thanks for the extraordinary man that was Taras Hnatyshyn and what he brought to me in my life, in our life together, and to all of you.

Taras was so many things. An artist. An astronomer. An engineer. A gamer. A photographer. A computer nerd. A lover of hops and hockey, of music and offbeat comedy and many things in Science Fiction including Doctor Who and Star Trek.

Taras was a kind, funny, gentle and generous man with a quick and clever wit. He was, as his friend Peter recently put it, “one of the good ones.”

Taras and I were friends before we dated. We would trade quips via music lyrics and I would sit in awe at his encyclopedic knowledge of Doctor Who. He was a gentleman who frequently walked me home. He would flirt with me…a lot. Sometimes (by his own admission), unknowingly because he wasn’t ‘that guy.’ You know – the ones who just want one thing.

And so it was after a birthday dinner one year when things changed between us. I had received a birthday call from my brother Michael, who took the opportunity to playfully chide me “So when are you going to grow up and settle down, leave the city and move to the suburbs, buy house, have a couple of kids already?” When I hung up and told Taras, he looked at me with a glint in his eye and said “Why does your brother want to punish you with his life?” I was struck. I thought to myself “Why am I not dating this man? He so clearly gets me!”

And so it was that we began dating and fell in love. We walked – everywhere. We laughed. We had our private jokes. We discovered one another and the ridiculous number of interests we had in common.

And then he got cancer.

It is an extraordinary fact that we lived just two blocks away from each other in the 1990s, went to the same shops and restaurants and bars. I used to joke with him that someone up there randomly pointed at him and at me as young adults and said “Those two! But not yet…”

Because Taras came into my life just when I needed him. And although we did not know it yet, fell in love just as he was going to be needing me.

And I am thankful for the immense pain I have at his loss. Because it is a measure of the love we shared for one another. Taras handled his disability and his illness with grace and strength and humor. He faced life’s difficulties squarely in the face and never succumbed to negativity. When I asked him, he said there was no point in getting upset over things he could not control. Life with Taras was fun. And when it got hard, he hugged me and never forgot to thank me for taking care of him. He even made a joke after having a stroke! I was sitting bedside caressing his arm and he said “You’re stroking me!”

In his last days I asked him if he was scared and he said no. I asked him if he was sad and he said no. He had made his peace. And I am thankful to say that his final hours were truly peaceful and without pain.

So, yes, I am deeply, deeply sad. But I am not angry. I am grateful for the gift that was Taras and the life we had together. And it is in the spirit of the mourner’s Kaddish prayer that I say thank you for the gift that was Taras, with whom I shared a life and with whom all of us here had the honor of knowing. Dyakuyu.

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