11 October 2011

Childhood is my temple.

Last night, I was with my mother for the first time since she died. My friends have told me that she visited them, in a pink terry cloth robe (she had one, covered in ducks) to admonish one for being too hard on himself, or to another she came, with a bowl of strawberries so red, so fresh, they were near psychedelic (she had forced strawberries upon her best friend, "Eat them, eat them!" and commanded us to set out fruit for our guests towards the end, when food barely passed her lips). For the first time since she died, I was not remembering her, it was not what she would have said, what she used to say. She was with me. For a breath, she was with me. In my black and white bathroom, I said aloud, "Mom, where are you?" and from behind my left shoulder she answered. "I'm right here, my girl."

A few days before she died, I sat on our deck (outside, I could not do this in the house she slowly breathed in) and made arrangements for her body to be prayed over and laid in a simple pine box, for that is what Jews do, and my mother was so proud to be a Jew. We did not have her buried in a shroud. Instead, she wears the dress she wore to my wedding, her moose fleece, and on her left pinkie is the same gold ring that is on mine. It says "LAMB", for us, her and my brothers (and you, too, Uncle B.).

The moths of mourning are eating holes in my shroud. The stillness, the rigidness keeps me upright, but the pole is loosing ground, the tide is having its way. Saturday was Yom Kippur, and tears poured down our faces (me and Michael - we were not crying, the physicality of it passed the emotion of crying) as we listened to the Rabbi's sermon - he lost his mother a few months before we, ours, and we felt he was speaking to us, about her, when he spoke of those who have gone too soon. My mother was only just 57 years old.

I sit, I write, the stillness is back - it was gone when I took up my pen, the tears poured, but in an instant, they disappear. Next to me is the Book of Remembrance, printed every year for Yizkor, filled with names of those remembered to G-d on the holiest day of the year. It looks the same, but it is not. The year is 5772 (which means Petey is 72) and my mother's name is listed inside, three times. Blanche Batnick. Blanche Batnick. Blanche Batnick. We too look the same. Leigh Michelle. Adam Ross. Michael Henry. We look the same, but we are not the same. We are wounded. We must learn to live wounded.

May G-d remember the soul of my mother, my teacher, Bloomie, who has gone to her supernal world, because I will - without obligating myself with a vow - donate charity for her sake. In this merit, may her soul be bound up in the bond of life with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and with the other righteous men and women who are in Gan Eden; and let us say, Amen.


by land by air by sea said...

i do not know you
but i know you
and your mother
and grief
universal grief
for to love is to grieve endlessly.
you are a writer leigh
and writing comes from this grief
and sometimes from happiness
but i know your mother would be happy to see
that even a stranger
recognizes your gifts


Your words touch my heart. I loved my father as you loved your mother. He is 15 years gone now, yet he visits me in my dreams at least once a week, and he is still very much a part of my life. When I accomplish something special, I wish I could share it with him, and then dreams come and I do. He knows. As long as you are here, so is Blanche.
Alan C.