My mother passed away right before Purim six and a half years ago. I haven’t really cried for her until very recently. I haven’t cried for my beautiful, strong, loving, always honest, never fake and naively hopeful believer in humanity mother because it would mean saying goodbye to her, and that I couldn’t bear.
I couldn’t bear to face the thought of never hearing her laughter, never smelling her hair as we embraced, never feeling her delicate hands on mine, never tasting her hot chocolate made from scratch, never seeing her smile. That smile that started out as a ray of shy early morning sun on the drop of newly formed dew and culminated as fireworks radiating out of her eyes—It engulfed all of her being and, in its infectiousness, it engulfed all of yours. There are few people in this world who light up the sky, fewer still whose sparks ignite others—I was honored to know one.
How do you say goodbye to someone you love so much, someone whose presence is an integral part of you, whose soul has left its infinite fingerprint on yours? Well, if you follow my advice, then you don’t—you just stuff it all deep down and carry on; after all you have kids to take care of, laundry to fold, husband to love, dinner to cook, work to do and everyone to fool. Except, let me tell you, this doesn’t work. The pain doesn’t get more manageable as years pass—it’s like an ugly imprisoned monster, who gets hungrier and bigger every day, defying all laws of appropriate conduct. Apparently, she too wants to feel loved and nourished and accepted in all her ugliness and all her goriness.
Initially, I wouldn’t hear of it. I ignored her cries, her pleas to be let out, to be heard, to be acknowledged. I concentrated on things I was good at, things that gave me back the illusion of control.
Unfortunately, what happens when you imprison a part of yourself, one of your innermost emotions, is that it eats you from inside and, because it’s hungry and uncertain of when you’ll ever let it out—it eats a lot. As years rolled on, I became really good at ignoring her and she became but a distant sob in my early morning dreams. She created an invisible leak in my gasoline tank, constantly draining me and making me extremely flammable, until one day I was stranded on the side of the road, tank completely empty and I, myself, on fire.
When the beast came out, she had my eyes and burned hair and she looked longingly at me. The Grief wanted a hug, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for such close personal contact. We carefully glued eggshells to our shoes and then danced around each other until they turned to dust. And then I sobbed; insides quaking, as sorrow snaked its way out of my heart. And from then on, we—my Grief and I—made a promise, an ongoing date if you will, to meet each other for a bit every day, to say goodbye to the woman we love, the one whose presence is with us always, to laugh and cry creating our own fireworks in the sky. She’ll see them from her vantage point up high and she’ll know that I remember forever, I love always, and now, I am finally ready to grieve and to continue living without her.