haircuts, for jamie.

for some time now i’ve been meaning to post stories about where the poems i write end up. i am honored to post the first entry for jamie.

some time ago i got a voicemail from my friend penny. she sounded somber. not at all like her funny, upbeat, quick to make a joke self. she told me she had a special request that she thought only i could fulfill. here’s the rest of the story, from her:


My dear friend’s 21-year-old son, Jamie, was lying in the hospital close to death.   We were all preparing for the inevitable.  I knew I would want to stand up at Jamie’s memorial service; but what if no words came?  I called Silvi. She’d never met Jamie, but we spoke on the phone for a while and I told her about my relationship to him… among other things, that I used to cut Jamie’s hair.  I trusted instinctively that even without directly knowing him, Silvi would find the right words.  And of course…she did.


if only death was like getting our

hair cut by a good friend–nothing to

worry about, a chance to catch up on

who you love and what you want, a few

looks in the mirror to make sure things

are going alright and trust, because you

are friends forever and you love each other,

that there’s no way to cut too little or

cut too much. it strikes me now,

death is so much like this, except

it hurts to make this cut, knowing his

hair won’t grow back, that what we’ve had

together is all we will.  thank god we sat

shaping one another when we did. and

thank ourselves for knowing enough to

keep loving him and feel grateful

for all of our haircuts.

Then the day came.  I stood at the podium and read Silvi’s poem to 150 assembled friends and relatives — Jamie was much loved.  Afterwards, countless people came up to tell me how moved they had been by Silvi’s words.  And they asked me for copies of her poem.

A few days later, I again shared the poem, this time with a friend whose mother had died a few days earlier. Immediately, my friend asked if I might send her a copy.  I did, and she forwarded it to her rabbi, who read it at her mother’s funeral.

A Silvi poem is like vintage wine – it’s wonderful when you first read it, but continues to improve exponentially with time. When I first Jamie’s poem, I wept.  With each subsequent reading Silvi’s words continued to mellow, deepen and drop down right to the heart of it all.

And clearly, I wasn’t the only one who thought so.



3 Responses to “haircuts, for jamie.”
  1. Nate says:

    How do you know these things? I’m amazed.

  2. Dawn says:

    What a profound gift. God bless.

  3. Eliana says:

    This story touched me so much. Def keep passing along these stories — I think they are interesting! I should have Brian tell you the story about where the one I had you write for him ended up.

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