Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2 years

My mother, Sharon, died two years ago, today.


In some ways, it's hard to believe it's only been two years.  It feels like a lifetime I've lived without my mother here.  So much has happened, in every single day, that I want to tell her about.  So many little things - things that we would laugh at, or cry over, or discuss, or sing about.  There are big things, too - I'm making some job changes, I've moved apartments,  I fell in love and got engaged.  I'm going to have a wedding (something I know she always wanted to throw for me) and there is something so difficult and bittersweet about realizing her dreams for me, in her absence. 




In other ways, it feels like two years have been gone in the blink of an eye.  If I close my eyes, I can picture myself back in her hospital room, surrounded by my brother, father, aunt, uncle and grandmother, as we held her and whispered "we love you" as she took in her last breath and left this world.  Just like it was yesterday.  I can still see the details of her hands, the crookedness of her smile (which she hated), and the faces she used to make.  I can still hear her laugh, uproarious and contagious, and if I listen very closely I can still hear her heartbeat when she used to hug me and hold me - something a daughter never forgets. 


In distant ways, I can still see all the memories I have of her, in the back of my mind - from the time I was very little up until now. It often feels like an old movie reel, playing highlights over and over in my head.   When someone dies, I think we fear most that we will forget them and all the little moments that contributed to the whole of who they were - to ourselves and to the world.  But, now, I know that isn't true.  In fact, it's all of those little things that surface all the time for me, that remind me of something she used to do or say, of who she used to be and the people she touched.  The further away we get from her life, the more important these little reminders and memories become, to me, in keeping her spirit alive. 


When she first died, people were so gracious and comforting and loving and I've never stopped being grateful for that.  I was so scared that I would be trapped in the grief and pain of losing my best friend and my mother, but I'm not.  With the help of amazing family and friends, I've come through the cloud of grief and settled into bearing a new reality.  It doesn't get easier with time, but it certainly becomes more bearable and we learn better how to live with the emptiness that sits within us.  But that emptiness always resides deep inside.  Even two years later. Perhaps it will reside there forever. 


I spoke with my father, this morning, and he told me that he often feels like we're still living in a dream, that sometimes it's hard to accept this new kind of reality that is so unwelcomed and unfamiliar to the history of our lives.  After all, each of us have had so much more time with her in our lives, than without her.  We spoke about time and how much we 'think' time will help or hurt us, but that ultimately we control what times gives us and we control our memory of her and how she lives on in our lives. 


At her funeral, my friend sang a song I had never heard of before called "Stones Under Rushing Water" by NEEDTOBREATHE.  If you've never heard it, go find it,  it's a beautiful piece.  And, every year, on the anniversary of her death, or at times when I really miss her or am thinking about her, I listen to it.  For some reason, it helps to remind me of all the pain and all the grief and all the blessings and new life and excitement and all the memory and love that exist in the world and that I have for my mother.  It's been two years.  I miss her every day.  But, I am also grateful for the love and guidance she gave me, for the blessings of her life that still live on in the people she knew and loved and touched.  It's hard, but life goes on, beating forward, and her memory shines brightly within us, living on, as well.








Why don't we dance anymore?
I'm not okay with that
Why don't we laugh anymore?
I'm not okay with that


The years go by
Like stones under rushing water
We only know
We only know
when it's gone....


Yeah, the years go by
Like stones under rushing water
We only know
We only know
when it's gone....

2 comments:

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Sending you hugs and knowing that your mom will always embrace and inspire you. :) May her memory continue to be for a blessing...

jcm manuel said...

Very nice poem/song at the end. We must never forget the laughter. Without 'funniness' the human project is broken.