The following eulogy was delivered at the Lopatin's home on April 25, 2004, as part of an evening marking the (symbolic, religiously-mandated) end of the 30-day mourning period that commenced at Amir's burial.
Click below for the video:
As you know, last September Amirís father passed away. After the funeral service here in Englewood, I had a chance to talk to Amir right outside this home.
He told me three things that afternoon.
He told me he regretted not delivering a eulogy for his father (something, I should point out, he later did, and, I am told, did beautifully, at his fatherís burial in Israel).
He told me that I should be proud of my father and mother for all they had done for his family during his fatherís illness.
And, before heading back into his house to prepare for that eveningís trip to Israel, he told me something that I will never forgetóhe told me that it bothered him that the world would never again be able to hear his fatherís side of the story.
I asked Amir what he meant by this, so he explained further.
It bothered him that his father could never again defend himself or commend himself when needed; that his good name and reputation would forever be in the hands of anyone who saw fit to speak of him; and, most troubling, that his fatherís opinions and thoughts, his explanations and ideas, his intentions and desires, his arguments and beliefsóthe full and nuanced expression of his fatherís inimitable, complex perspectiveónow had to pass through the minds and mouths of others to be known.
I had never heard this perspective on death before, and it shook me. The thought was not a comforting one.
I asked Amiróso what are we to do then? How do we manage this void?
Before he could answer, he was summoned inside to get ready.
For the past month, I have thought a lot about what Amir told me that day and, suddenly, the questions he raised now seem terribly urgentóHow do we fill this void of perspective when all we have now are guesses and speculation, presumptions and projections, interpretations and extrapolations? Are these really the tools we should be using to define Amir and sustain his identity? And must we define him, at all? Must we summarize Amirís life?
I donít pretend to know the answers to these questions. But I think that as long as we remain mindful of themóas Amir didóand accept that Amirís perspective is NOT, in his absence, up for grabs, we wonít allow his identity to be reduced to convenient generalizations. We will dearly miss Amirís voice and vision, and we will wonder and contemplate what he might have said or might have done, but in the absence of knowledge, ambiguity and uncertainty are sometimes more faithful representations of the truth.
In Memory of Amir Lopatin