Noble as an orchid,
Embracing like the sun.
Purest of souls,
Loving and cherished.
(Written on my Mother’s gravestone)
It was almost 5 years ago, on June 9th, 2010 that I was forced to grow up. I had lost my Mom to cancer. I’ll never forget that morning when my Dad called me to come over.
I sat down next to my only sister on my parents’ bedroom floor, where over the years I would sit with my Mom. I’d sit and watch her as she was getting ready for work, putting her makeup on or watching Grey’s Anatomy and crying our eyes out.
The room felt like the air was drained from it. My Mom was finally getting the peace that she deserved after a year of painful fighting. I’ll never forget what my Sister told me — this is your last chance to see her, to say goodbye.
I didn’t want to accept that at that time, but I came up to my Mom and squeezed her hand that one last time. She was colder than I ever felt or would ever feel in my 24 years. I sat back down with my sister, on the floor, my hand still cold from her touch.
2 busses full of colleagues came to the funeral. All of them had so much to say about her, they even knew my sister and me from her screensaver at work.
I always hated it growing up, knowing people can see my embarrassing teenage pictures. Now, I miss it. My Mom taught several classes at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and also worked on completing her PhD in teachers training for kids with learning disabilities and the hearing impaired. She was so close to finishing. It was devastating for her when she realized she wouldn’t be able to.
This story has a powerful ending though. Those 2 busses, full of co-workers, they weren’t ready to let all that important work she did be unknown to the world. 3 years after her passing 2 books were published, inspired by her PHD and life work, filled with articles from the top in her field, who were also her close friends.
She was captivating as much as she was intelligent, which made it hard for people to let her go easily. These books are now considered the most advanced in the field, stocked in every university library in Israel. Students as well as Professors are using it to study, write papers and build syllabuses. This is what my Mom would have wanted, she’s at peace now.
I know everyone’s loved ones were the best, but my Mom, she was the best for me. I didn’t get a chance to know her the way I would have wanted to, but her kind, loving and uplifting spirit will stay with me forever.
Looking back I would have told myself to let go more, let it out. Give into grieving, because sometimes I feel that I never really let myself be completely immersed in my pain. In her last year I felt like so many bad things were happening all at once that I shut my feelings and myself out, and watched my life go by like a soap opera on TV, not letting anything in. My advice to you is:
Let it all in even if it hurts.
Lean on the people that love you, they won’t break.
Find something that makes you happy and do it.
*My Mom’s name is Hagit Bar Lev, 52 years old in her passing.