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Nine months ago I lost my beloved mother.
But as I write these words, I wonder: Can one ever really lose a mother?
Of course not. But I lost the sound of my mother’s voice when I’d walk into the room and hear her joy as she cried out my name. I lost the touch of her hands as she would hold onto mine. I lost the one person in the world whom I would call day or night, no matter the hour. She would be happy to lift the burden off of my shoulders. “Don’t worry, sheyfelah, everything will be all right. I am davening for you.” In my heart I knew that my mother was taking out her book of Psalms and washing the fragile pages with her tears. For me. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of feeling cared for and loved.
And now I am left grappling with the void. There are times that I pick up the phone out of habit and just hear the dial tone ringing in my ear. I forget that I cannot make that call. I seek her wisdom but must instead rely on my mother’s words from days gone by. I struggle to remember it all. I try fiercely to hold onto our inside jokes, our looks of understanding. I close my eyes and travel to my yesterdays when I had a mother in this world.
Each Friday night the empty chair is yet another stark reminder of all that I have lost. I wish that I could bend my head and feel my mother’s hands upon me as she whispers her Shabbos blessings once again. But the night passes and in my mother’s place is the sound of silence.
I recall that last Shabbos when my mother was feeling too ill to come to my home. My two-year-old grandson asked, “Where’s Bubba?”
“Bubba doesn’t feel so good.” I replied. “I don’t think Bubba is coming tonight.”
His eyes began to fill. “I want Bubba!”
I saw him run to the window and lift up the curtain. His lips pouting, he had a determined look on his face. He turned to me while holding onto the fabric’s edge. “Maybe Bubba is coming. I’m gonna watch by this window.”
We waited and waited but it was not to be.
I wish we would have known that our time together was going to be cut short. I wish I would have asked more questions. Learned more. Listened more.
On one of those last awful days in the hospital when we knew that the moment to say goodbye was drawing near, we each took a few moments to speak privately.
My mother’s eyes were opened. I knew that though my mother could not talk she knew exactly what was happening. There was a light of understanding that shone forth.
I leaned in and took my mother’s hand.
I thanked my dear mother for giving me life. I tried to express my gratitude for my mother’s courage, vision, resilience, and her keeping the torch of faith burning inside of us. The many sacrifices for our people that she ingrained within our hearts. And the countless sacrifices she made for us, her children. The path that she so valiantly forged for us to follow in. I thanked her for giving us the gift of memory, mission, and legacy.
My mother’s footsteps can never be erased by time. Her love has been imbued into the very molecules of this universe. We breathe in her love every single day. It is a mother’s love that cannot be duplicated; a singular love that nourishes one’s soul.
My mother’s eyes glistened. How does one say goodbye? I took a tissue and dabbed her cheeks as two tears rolled down her face. At that moment I felt I was touching holiness; burning tears of fire straight from the soul.
If you are blessed with having a mom in this world, take a moment and share your gratitude. Words from the heart can be difficult to voice, but you will always cherish this moment. It is a giant leap of love. It’s worth taking it.
And if your mother has returned her soul to the heavens above, know, as I do, that your mother is your mother forever. She is watching over you, praying for you and caring for you. Take comfort in knowing that you do not stand alone.
With eternal gratitude to my dear mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungries, may her memory be for a blessing,