Special Notes for the Soul
Saturday, May 28, 2022

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gay soul

 

On April 8, 2010, three days after Robert J Magnin passed away, his oldest sister Marie and his brothers Richard and Joseph, who had come to Miami after they had heard of Robert's critical health condition, had gone back to Philadelphia after his passing away. Our dear friend Teddy Davis from Washington DC, who also came in disbelief to be with him during his final critical moments, was still staying with me in Miami. I had not been able to sleep all night and around 6:00 AM I decided to go over a pile of paperwork that Bob was keeping on his nightstand. He always read the Sunday newspaper to check real estate listings and to cut out all the coupons and bargain sales he could find.

 

soul body

 

To my surprise, mixed in between his paperwork I found 4 small pages clipped together that appeared to be part of a diary he kept. The page at the top was dated April 8, the same day I was physically looking at these notes for the first time. I could not believe my eyes, especially as the first notation said:

 

Voice of the soul

 

"Maurice woke me up to say goodbye, he always looks so handsome in the morning, probably has something

to do with having so much goodness shining through his eyes."

 

This startling finding and revelation made me so emotional while at the same time was giving me a sense of comfort. However, I could not continue reading his notes all by myself. I immediately went to wake up Teddy who was sleeping in the guest room across the hall and I asked him to please join me while I was reading the rest of the notes. It was not until then that we realized Robert had written these diary entries in 1999, eleven years earlier, on the same date I found them. The handwritten notes had several entries and included a beautiful mention of his sister Re, as well as for his two brothers that came to Miami to support me during these difficult times, expecting him to recover. He also included the following notations:

 

"I'm so lucky to have so much.

I need to share it with others."

"I need to spend more time and efforts toward what will truly make us happy;

the future, our dreams, family and love."

"Birds are singing...outside the guest bedroom.

It is 1:10 AM, only in Miami..."

 

As I went through all the notes, I found notes which were written starting on March 23, 1999. We always tried to attend family gatherings.  His mom Marie would always cook on Thanksgiving, his sister Marie would invite us to a big Christmas Day celebration, and his sister Dorothy would take care of Easter.  His notes also included the following regarding Easter, 1999:

 

I felt terrible telling Dorothy that we couldn't make it to her Easter Day dinner"

 

We had planned to go to Pennsylvania for Easter 2010 and spend some time with his family and friendsThis time, It was me who had to cancel the trip. Bob was in critical condition on Easter Sunday and passed away the next day, Monday April 5th, 2010.  His sister Re and two of his six brothers, Richard and Joseph, were with me in Miami and thus, were not able to attend the family's annual Easter Day dinner.  

 

living soul 2 768667

 

All our friends have expressed our relationship is one of the best they have ever encounter among couples, whether straight or gay. Bob was 16 when I first met him and I was 23. We met during the summer of 1977 when I was studding my Master's Degree at the University of Pennsylvania in his hometown Philadelphia and he had just finished 11th grade and had a summer job as a cashier in "Apple Jack's "a famous Jewish delicatessen in Center City Philadelphia.  Bob's first job was at a candy store at the age of 6 when he worked for an elderly Jewish couple that had come from Europe after the Second World War. He always remembered the couple with love and respect, as they treated him as if he was their own child and invited him for dinner many times after they had closed the store in the late afternoon. They lived in the back and above the storefront and they introduced him to many Jewish dishes including gefilte fish, chopped liver, matzo balls and even herring. The kindness he was subject to growing up, became a reflection of his personality throughout his life. He would give without expecting anything in return and always felt he was very lucky to have so much so he would need to share his happiness with others.   Bob was a devoted catholic of Irish and French descent and always made sure I would follow my Jewish traditions. He would always light a candle for people in need and he would always reminded me to light up a "Yahrzeit" candle for my father on both, the day of his birthday and on the anniversary of his death.

 

Soul Imagination

 

Bereavement in Judaism is a combination of min-hag (traditional custom) and mitzvah (good deeds or religious obligation). The details of observance and practice vary according to each Jewish community.  As part of my bereavement process I decided to combine some of Robert's and my own traditions and design my own way of mourning and paying tribute to my beloved Partner in Life. I decided to light up a "Yahrzeit" candle while I said Kaddish, the mourners prayer, every day during the first year after his death.  Lighting a "Yahrzeit" candle in memory of a loved one is a min-hag ("custom") that is deeply ingrained in Jewish life honoring the memory and souls of the deceased.

 

 

 

A headstone (tombstone) is known as a "Matzevah" ("monument"). There are varying customs about when it should be placed on the grave. Most communities have an unveiling ceremony a year after the death. The unveiling of Robert James Magnin "Matzevah" or headstone took place on Tuesday, April 5, 2011, the actual day of the first anniversary of his death at the New Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I was accompanied by Robert's sisters Marie and Dorothy, his brothers David, Richard, Gary and Joseph, his nieces Haley and Casey as well as two of our best friends Mark and Teddy. The family had placed rose petals throughout the walkway in the cemetery to the headstone. A strong wind unveiled the headstone and further dispersed the rose petals as we all stood around his grave listening to Teddy referring to Bobby as his guardian angel and reading the following Mass card:

AFTERGLOW

I'd like the memory of me

To be a happy one. I'd like

To leave an Afterglow of

Smiles when day is done.

I'd like to leave an echo...

Whispering softly down the

Ways of happy times and

Laughing times and bright

And sunny days. I'd like

The tears of those who

Grieve to dry before the

Sun of happy memories

That I leave behind when

Day is done.

Also read: "I have Been Touched by an Angel" 

 

head stone cu

In Loving Memory of

Robert James Magnin

February 6, 1961- April 5, 2010