Friday, May 12, 2017

I Remember Mamma

Written by  Rabbi Jan Dodi

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. My mom passed almost seven months ago. This will be my first without her. We didn’t have a good relationship, and near the end, we didn’t have one at all. Her mind slipped away, her worst attributes came to the surface, and it was difficult for all. But even then, the ritual continued. I would order her chocolate-covered strawberries to be delivered the day before. I would call on Mother’s Day and remind her of who I was. Sometimes she remembered, and sometimes she did not. But it didn’t matter, I remembered her.

I know so many of you are also without your mother this year. Some have left many years ago and many turned their backs on you and some of you never had one at all. It doesn’t make it easier.

When we lose a loved one, people send condolences, flowers, notes, etc. In Judaism, there are two phrases you will hear a lot. “May you be comforted among all who mourn…” and “May their memory be for a blessing to all who knew them.” Being recognized as a mourner is to put you into a category which is supposed to make you feel not alone. The other is to remind you of the memories of a loved one and bring them to mind. In doing so, you keep that person’s memory alive.

But what should we do? Those still here. I will spend the day with loved ones the way I always do. My family is close by and I will see them on or near Sunday. They will call and let me know they are thinking of me. That will bring me joy. We will spend the day with my other family, taking my mind off of my loss. Grandkids and noise, food, and company will keep me busy.

A dear friend has a memory garden for all those they have lost over the years. A beautiful tribute to those he loved. He started one for us last year, so perhaps I will plant something. Maybe this will be a new ritual for me.

I listen to many, sit with them after a loss, console them (or at least try). It is different when it is yourself experiencing the loss. I suppose after I leave someone and they are alone, they experience just what I have. Many of you have had to deal with this loss many, too many times, over. What can I say to you? Dig deep, remember those you who are no longer in your lives, hopefully with a happy memory (but a memory nonetheless). Hold on to that memory. Let it live on in you. Reach out and hold it.

Create a ritual that works for you. Whether it is laying flowers, lighting a candle, looking at pictures, visiting familiar places, surrounding yourself with friends or family, planting a rose bush. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it for yourself. We, the living, go on living. We need to find ways to enhance our lives when we hurt.

For all of you celebrating Mother’s Day – may it be a joyous one.

For the rest, may you find a way to remember, celebrate, commemorate, or be comfortable just being. However, you deal with loss, may you find solace knowing you are not alone. So many in our community have shared this experience. Maybe the ritual of saying you are not alone is a good reminder, we join the ranks of some many others who have loved and lost someone. We are not alone. Maybe that is what I need to take from all this. May you find what you need. Blessings to all.

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