I decided to just let the moment happen, and trust that my brain and heart would find the right direction.
I had four uncles, my mother's four older brothers, who all died by the time I was 18. I have very strong memories of them all, even though two died before I was 6: Ruby, dark, quiet, and always smiling. Charlie, sandy-haired, a little louder, a font of funny malapropisms. Moe, proud businessman with a voice like Archie Bunker's, minus the politics, thank goodness ("my little goil!"). And last but not least, Ben, the oldest and quietest, who offered few words in his soft, gravelly voice, and loved me fiercely.
And for some reason, even though their existence has seemed almost mystical for many years—did they really exist, or did I dream them through my mother's stories?—I suddenly felt them next to me at the bima, two on each side. Memories became as close to flesh as possible, just at that moment when I needed someone to put a hand on my shoulder. They remained there throughout the song, making sure I wasn't alone.