As The Mourning Ends
The most poignant part of sitting Shiva for my mother a”h was observing my nieces and nephews and their children caring for us, the older generation. I envied these people for being able to honor their parents by bringing food and drinks, and doing all they could to make us comfortable. They had an opportunity that I would never again have to honor a parent. I understood, as I had not after my father zt”l’s passing, why we mourn a full year over the loss of the Mitzvah to honor a parent, and committed myself to be meticulous in observing the year of mourning as a form of honoring my mother. My sisters, great women all, accepted to be extra careful with blessings as merit for my mother’s already lofty soul. It was my mother who made me a blessing fanatic and I’ve always thought of her each time I recite a blessing. I needed to do more than focus on the way I recite blessings. I found that the things I did not do because I was in mourning were a more powerful reminder of the Mitzvah I lost, and how careless I was fulfilling the Mitzvah when my mother was alive.
I realized that my mother instilled a sense of possibility in me and that I cannot recall her ever saying, “It can’t be done,” so spending a year “not doing,” experiencing limitations was the perfect way to honor her life.
I always write to music. Each time this past year that I sat down to write without music I consciously thought of my mother and considered the restriction as an expression that my world was lessened by her passing.
I experienced the Talmudic reflection that a mourner’s mouth is closed when I would sit down to write, only to think of my mother and end up frustrated with the limitations of life. I have yet to find the proper words to eulogize her – how could I write about anything else? Each essay I chose to not write was a way to more intensely experience mourning her death.
The year of mourning is about to end. I’ve been looking forward to listening to music, and am shocked that I will actually miss the restriction. I have made such a powerful connection between not listening and honoring my mother that I’m looking for another way to make her a constant presence in my day.
I’m still thinking, but as she lived her life I know that it can be done. If only I could ask her how!
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