Writings shared from the ninth session. Prompt: Memory Box
Where to begin? I hope I can remember the little things to write down here, even though it’s been only two years, I have already forgotten so much. Like when someone plays a voice note and your voice fills the room, it jerks me awake – what? Whose voice is that? What is that voice? I guess we can start from there.
I want to remember your voice. Your raspy voice, lost after a lifetime of teaching young children. My most earliest memory. Your voice used to be the most familiar thing to me. All the shades of red nail polish you’d wear. Did you do your nails yourself? Did I do them for you? I can’t remember.
I’ll put the tv shows and movies you loved and that will always make me think of you. Grey’s Anatomy. This Is Us. Moana.
I’ll put the soft tichels you’d wear around the house, with the smell that’s been gone for so long – just so you. I can close my eyes and try really hard to remember that smell, of your clothes and your drawers, and I think I still can. What else?
Your quirky jokes. Your sassy tones. Your quotable quotes. “One day, you’ll be a mother, and you’ll see. You won’t let your kid take the subway so late at night.” And, “don’t worry, Tatty will pay,” and “I’m at the store, what should I bring home for you,” and, “really, Michal?” and, at the very end, the last thing, “I’ll always be with you, in your heart.”
I’ll put your fancy glasses, your funny black shades we’d always make fun of, the ones that tatty would laugh and point at and say, “look, it’s cute.”
Your mac lipstick. Your blush. Your soft pajamas. The chocolate pudding you’d make at midnight, the small bowls you’d offer me. The way the house was cleaned right after shabbos and then we’d sit down and watch your shows together. Our shabbos morning breakfasts. We’d gossip, eat cheesecake and kokosh and you’d knock on my door, “girls, wake up, come hang out with me. Come cuddle!” Tatty would go into the room. “Should I wake mommy up?” He wouldn’t even pretend to whisper, he’d laugh, like he was so clever, we’d yell, “No!” but you were never sleeping to begin with.
Your eyedrops you were so careful about. Your freshly squeezed orange juice. All the cakes and chocolates. When you’d go into a store, just for “one thing” and come out, a million bags in hand later. “Michal, come meet me at the corner, my hands are full.” I used to get so annoyed at those calls. Oh, what I would do for a call like that. The way you’d daven every shabbos morning, at the living room table, in your robe, swaying, lips barely moving. I never heard a thing. Your favorite magazines. US and People. The Jewish Press. Your “papers.” The nights you’d stay up preparing arts & crafts for your students. We used to make so much fun. But you loved them so much. You loved your job so much. Chinuch. Educating children, showering them with love and torah and chassidus. The way you were so proud of your husband. The way you forgave him. Always. After everything. The way he loved you. The greatest team. Your linen. The jodi picoult books you loved. Seeing you at all my school events, from kindergarten through high school. My high school graduation. The morning I got my acceptance letter into seminary. The balloons and flowers you bought me the next day. Your kiss on my cheek. Your hugs around my shoulders. Your enthusiasm. You were always so proud of us. You’d hang up our grades on the fridge, even if they weren’t even that great.
The cake you bought me for my driving test. The words on the cake. “New driver, beware.” the sushi you had delivered. the cookies you ordered for me on my birthday, from the hospital during your chemo session. The way you’d say, “don’t thank me. Thank Hashem, the Rebbe, and Tatty’s business,” or, “every day is mother’s day,” or, “I have the best children.”
The flowers I used to buy you every shabbos. Your chocolate cake. Your cookies. The way you’d say “soda” with an ‘r.” Your barely legible handwriting. Your late notes you’d write for me.