Starting at 23

I started this blog in anticipation of my mom’s first yartzeit (death-anniversary).

It’s been a long year and I have been trying my hardest to avoid everything and just keep surviving. But with the one year coming up, I feel it’s time for me to start facing it. All the realities, all the sadness, all the pain. Slow and steady.

The way I best do this is through writing, and through sharing. So, here goes. Here, are all my grieving moments. Starting at 23.

Hey Mom,

It’s my birthday!

My first birthday without you. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was, but stupid me to think one day can be harder than every single day? Because every single day you’re on my mind. Every single time I look at my phone I wait for it to ring and sometimes imagine your name showing up, “Mom” calling.

How I used to take that for granted.

It’s weird that I’m somehow getting to used to not talking to you when I literally used to call you every single day, and get text messages from you with all your cute emojis and asking how I’m doing.

There’s nothing quite like having a mother ask you how you’re doing.

And I know not everyone is blessed to have such a mother, but I did, and this was taken away from me.

I learned once that comparing your sadness to other people’s and trying to say, “well, at least it’s not that bad…” or, “at least I have this,” doesn’t actually help. It doesn’t take away your sadness and it doesn’t lessen the other persons. So feel free to stop doing that.

Nothing will ever take away this deep deep sadness that rests in my broken heart. Oh, how it hurts so bad to have a broken heart. To have a broken heart with no mother to hold it.

It will be one year next week.

One year of hell and torture for everyone in the world, but hey, my world was pretty shit too. We had two weeks to mourn you before having to worry about Tatty in the hospital. In the following weeks and months, I busied myself with doctor calls, learning how to maintain a clean house, trying to keep my sanity, learning how to live in an empty home with no parents, completing all my assignments and finishing my semester, struggling with working from home, and trying not to succumb to the darkness that was quarantine and death all over. Time slowed down, but damn it went fast. One year.

I did my best to run away. I left the house, and I’ve lived in three different apartments in the span of four months.

I can’t settle.

I don’t feel settled without you.

I can’t feel grounded without you.

But I’m trying.

I did everything I could to distract myself. I have school to thank for that, and full days in the office.

But one year.

I see you every time I close my eyes, but I haven’t written for a long time and I haven’t tried to connect.

Because how can I connect to something I can no longer see, hold, touch, communicate with?

How do I connect with you?

How do I sustain a relationship with a person that is no longer alive?

You were my everything and you were taken.

I am hurt. I am angry. I want to be angry and I want to cry. All the time. And this year allowed me to.

In aveilus, a grieving person doesn’t have to show up to much. We are excused from weddings, celebrations, general happiness and being positive and, I could always say, my mother passed away a few months ago. That is why.

That is why I don’t pick up the phone,

That is why I don’t laugh wholeheartedly

That is why I can’t concentrate

Or feel hopeful to a future

Or get excited in the mornings

Or can dream about a career

Or focus on anything for more than 3 minutes

This is why I am the way I am, because my mother died and goddamit can’t that be enough?

Can’t you see how I am feeling, how broken this world is, how ugly, how fragile, how short, how profane it has become?

Mommy when you died you took a piece of me with you. You took my love for religion, for culture, for family, you took everything beautiful and I don’t know where it went. A piece of me died that night.

But next Thursday night, it will be one year.

No more hiding in the “first year cocoon.” Society definitely won’t allow it, and as much as people try to listen, and care, and be there for your support,

The truth is,

No one gets it until they’re in it. And this is okay, this is natural, this is human, I was like this too.

But listen to me,

Out there

Whoever is reading this

And I know I addressed this to my mother, and now I’m talking to this audience of readers, but this is how writings go, don’t they?

It will happen to you.

You will lose someone you love, one day. God willing, that day does not come soon, but listen,

Everyone has a 100% rate of dying, this I heard in a TedTalk.

And this grief,

This grieving,

Is horrible. And it’s lonely. And it’s torture sometimes.

And all you can do is be there.

So be there.

After the 1 year.

Show up.

Show up for your friends and your family and your neighbors around you,

Because it’s going to happen to you. And you are going to need the support more than you will need to breathe. Because you will not be able to breathe. And the only way you will get out from drowning is from the people pulling you up and holding you until you breathe into your life again.

Mommy, you encompassed joy. And gratitude. And love and warmth.

So many of these things I feel I lost.

I was so scared to connect because then it’s admitting you are gone.

Writing this down now on my notes in my computer is admitting this is all I will ever have again in my lifetime.

I will only have this.

This is how I will share my thoughts.

Typing them,

Handwriting them, (maybe soon, it is too much effort for now)

Speaking them (hopefully one day, but I am not there yet)

This is all I have. Letters and words on a paper that I can share with friends and family for support and in support of those that have lost and hope to pass on this connection, this rope that can pull on them and hold them up and show them they are not alone.

But to me, this was defeat. This was acceptance of your death. And so I tried my best to stop it.

But living a life with no hope and no connection to you has not been working out for me. It has not made me happy, and Mommy, you died on Purim, the happiest holiday, to tell us you want us to be happy right?

You told me, a day before you left, that it will hurt for a few months, and then I’ll be okay.

But it’s been a few months and its been hurting a hell of a lot. Every day.

But I haven’t been trying that hard have I? I haven’t been reaching out for support when I need it, and I haven’t been trying to connect to you or look at your photos or let myself think of you, I have been shutting you away and trying my best to look somewhere else.

But it’ll be one year.

And it’s time to start trying.

To start admitting that you are actually gone.

Your body will never come back.

But that you exist maybe as a soul?

Or, maybe your love? Your love that I feel so strongly when I let myself think of it, I let myself feel it and I hold it, I hold it in my heart and I cry but I also thank god that I have it, because what would I be without it? How would I survive without this love you left me?

You gave me everything, but most importantly, you gave me your love.

And maybe this love that exists so strongly is actually my connection to you, and maybe somewhere up there or in here or everywhere, maybe you’re here, maybe you’re with me, and maybe I just need to try harder to let myself believe.

This is my birthday wish. To try my hardest to start believing you are with me, watching over me, holding me, proud of me?

This is my wish, my blessing,

My blessing to all who reads this,

May you feel connected. May you feel connected to your mothers, your fathers, your sisters, your brothers, your neighbors, your friends, your partners, your community, your teachers, your leaders, yourself, your religion, your careers, your schoolwork, your everything and anything. May we feel connected in all that we do and may we all breathe into our lives because it is so short and it is so precious. Give those extra hugs. Give those extra kisses. Feel the extra warmth in your life and if you don’t have it, give it. Because that is all we can do.

Here’s to 23, to being a year of happiness, lots of health, and connection. L’chaim.

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