L’Shanah Tovah: Wishing You a Good Year and Feeling Better About It!

28 Sep

When I first thought about writing this blog, I spoke with a few friends who have experienced the same loss as I have—their moms also died when they were young adults. One common question came up with each friend—which day do you find most difficult or sad since your mom died? Birthdays rank high as an answer. But, for me, it is the Jewish High Holidays.

Time definitely does not make all sad feelings go away, but has helped in this case. Still, every Rosh Hashanah has a sadness that I can’t escape. I have tried to determine the reason why I find this the toughest time of year. It is not necessary or even plausible to find logic in my feelings, but here it goes anyway:

1.  I love holiday celebrations and this is one that my mom always hosted. I do not recall any big gatherings, but the holiday meal was special. And, yet the food was not extraordinary. My mom was an excellent cook, but she made traditional (actually, the tastiest I’ve ever had) chicken soup, a chicken dish and good sides. I still wonder why we did not have brisket.  I can surmise that either it was too expensive or considered less healthful.

2.  As a family we went to Temple for evening and morning services. Our Rabbi’s sermons stimulated our family discussions throughout the day. My mom couldn’t read Hebrew, but always had an opinion about the Rabbi’s address.

3. Dressing for the holidays was a huge deal. My mother agonized over her holiday outfits. She was always concerned that people would scoff, albeit silently, at her if she wore the same dress two years in a row. I never understood that and I remember telling her that no one would ever notice. My comment never helped and I was too naïve to realize she wanted to be noticed!

3.  After the Rosh Hashanah morning service, our day continued with family time. We would eat again, either at the Rabbi’s Open House or at home. And then, my father would declare the holiday over and want to go shopping. My mother argued that some Jewish people were still in services and we should not go out until the holiday ended officially. But, each year, she would be overruled and off to Sym’s we would go!

4. After my father died, my mom sometimes spent either Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur with my sister. I was weepy when she left and thrilled when she returned. More than any other celebration, this one was incomplete without her.

So, my feelings about the holiday are drawn from the traditional love of matzo ball soup, holiday prayers and melodies to the secondary and unnecessary fixation on fashion. In each circumstance, memories of my mom’s presence prevail.

For years after my mom died, I would dread the High Holy Days and feel relief when they ended. Yet with time and distraction, I have grown to enjoy them. Thanks to the thoughtful persistence of good friends, we enjoy their warm and wonderful family gatherings. During this holiday season, I think about and miss my mom more than usual. And, that is just another tribute to her and our special relationship.

I continue to wonder, what days are hardest for other motherless daughters. We all share a sense of dread for certain days. What day do you find you most miss your mom?

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2 Responses to “L’Shanah Tovah: Wishing You a Good Year and Feeling Better About It!”

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster September 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I don’t know that I can possibly do this feeling in my heart justice, but . . . I just feel so overwhelmed with love as I read this. It’s as if by writing it, you opened up those past celebrations for me to be somehow a part of them. It’s an amazing feeling, and I thank you for that.

    I’m halfway through my second year without my mom. What feels the hardest when I think about it is our shared birthday, yet I think I laid a good foundation last year to remember her with joy instead of sorrow on that day. We’ll soon see!

    I’m reposting my Yom Kippur entry next Thursday, by the way. I already wrote a little intro, and included the whole passage I’m reading. I only wonder if I ought post it earlier in the High Holy Days. Hrm.

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