Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The view from here

In the dark of a too early morning, I crack open the door of the boys' bedroom to wake Jacob, still deeply under, in the top bunk.

I entreat him to rise with whispers, remind him to stay quiet himself, so as not to awaken his brother, asleep below, as he sits up uttering his usual first word of the day “Stupid.”

“Jacob…” I whisper-scold.

“Don’t say the bad word” he repeats in a singsong voice.

“Shhhhhhh.” I remind, again. And in a louder, more urgent whisper “Come down now, Baby, the bus will be here in a half hour and it won’t wait, you have to get ready for school.”

“Stupid” says Jacob, one more time, as he lumbers down the ladder, his ancient blue bear firmly clutched in one hand.

Then, at the bottom: “Can I have a hug, Mommy?”

And thus begins our day.

By the time Ethan is up - after three visits to his bedroom, progressing from a cheerful “good morning” through a gentle shoulder shake, the flashing on and off of lights, the radio blasting an obnoxious rock station and the (idle) threat of a cold water dousing – Jacob is long gone, sent off with a kiss onto his long bus ride to his wonderful Special-Ed school on the far, other (lower, East) side of town.

(I try not to think about it too much, because it makes me sad when I do, but, yes, my boys, my twins - due to luck, genetics, a whim of the gods of autism & neurodiversity, and probably something I ate or didn’t eat when I was seventeen - lead very separate lives.)

Ethan and I talk, always; words his currency, as they are mine.

We talk a lot or a little, depending in the day. Did the Knicks win last night? How about the Nets? Chatting away through breakfast eaten, lunch made, bags packed.

Some days I take Ethan to school, yet others I send him walking with the neighbors, two boisterous boys whose testosterone-filled company he favors lately.

Already he has begin to resist my goodbye kisses when others are present. "Mooooooom" he protests as I hand him over in the lobby, though I know tonight he will still curl up into my lap as we watch the game together, after homework has been done (please God, let the homework get done without torture tonight).

<*> <*> <*>

And then I am alone, with too much to do, but no heart for any of it.

I am supposed to be writing my mother's eulogy right now. With the snow delaying her memorial service, I have had a long time to accomplish this seeming simple task, even longer to contemplate it, as I knew, bone deep, that the end was coming soon.

And yet I just... cannot. Words are failing me.

I wrote a beautiful eulogy for my father. Poured all my love and crystal knowledge of who he was into it.

But my mother... my mother.. my mother...

All I want to do is keen and cry.

In spite of so many words spilling out of me immediately after her death, I am now experiencing my grief in a visceral, animal way.

I am angry, bereft, pained; and in no space to make pretty words of it. For even at the very end, drifting away from her memories, from the shaped, sharpened form of herself, my mother was still filled with light and love.

And when we held hands the bond between us thrummed, strong as the day that I was born and we became mother and daughter.

My mother was unwavering in her love, and the space it took up in me is now dark, hollow, memory's embers being a paltry substitute for the heat of a living presence.

And there has been, yet, barely time to mourn, so filled are my days with the minutia of things that must be done; mountains of laundry and paperwork; all the threads that I dropped when constantly dashing off to my mother's bedside must now be gathered and stitched back in, the fabric of my life holey, like tattered lace.

<*> <*> <*>

The boys mourn my mother, each in their own way.

"I see Grandma, in my brain" says Jake. And I am never sure if that means to him what it does to me. He still asks to go see her sometimes, the concept of death as a permanent state being perhaps too abstract for him to fully grasp.

Ethan and I bake blueberry muffins, Mom's perennial favorite. No matter how low her spirits or appetite, I could always entice her to eat a blueberry muffin and a cup of hot cocoa.

Come to think of it, we're drinking a lot of cocoa, too.


I raise my mug to you.

Mom, enjoying cocoa & a muffin with me, December, 2011


  1. And I raise my mug to you today, Varda. Thank you for this tender slice of life this morning, as I picture your morning with your boys. I also picture your mourning, as you mourn your mom. Love.xoxo

  2. Raising my mug to you my friend. This was just beautiful. The words for your mother will come.

  3. This is beautiful-as always. I wrote my mom's eulogy too and the words came the morning of the service. I wrote them a million times but they changed dramatically when my mouth opened to say them. Your heart will work when the time comes. I think you nailed something with the-there hasn't been time to mourn with the minutia-line. I think as moms we are so busy with the every day, it is a blessing and a curse. Blessing because we must go on and our lives really are still filled with so much goodness that the pain is dulled-slightly. But a curse because the mourning seems to last forever-in a series of fits and spurts through the rest of our days. Good luck my friend. My heart is with you.

  4. Varda, this is a beautiful start to eulogizing your mom. How to you capture in a finite number of words the infinite ways she touched your life. The task is as enormous as your love for her, but you will get there, and she will be honored by it simply because it came from you. <3

  5. Varda you say everything in such a beautiful prose, it's hard to imagine these words come from such a place of pain and loss. You know I have no words. Only love and so much much hurt I cannot even find the words myself to acknowledge it in you. Drink the cocoa. The words will come. And they will be perfect.

  6. Absolutely beautiful Varda.

  7. What a beautiful bond you shared with your mother. Although I don't yet know that grief, I can imagine how all-encompassing it must be. Be patient with yourself, friend.

  8. This makes me want to hop in my car and drive the 3-4 hours it would take to make you cocoa and wrap you in a gentle hug. To give you the safe space and undistracted time to keen and wail, to weep and moan and mourn the loss of such an incredibly beautiful, complicated and intimate bond with your mother.

    Debby is right; the words WILL come. And I have no doubt that they will be beautiful and your mother will be smiling down bright as the goldenrod she loved.

  9. I'm raising my mug to you too, although I don't have muffins today....hopefully you'll accept some instant oatmeal and pathetic pop tarts. HUGS

  10. Keen and wail away. The eulogy will come. Your boys are beautiful and so are you. xoxo

  11. again, so emotive and beautiful. i love the photo of your mom... what a gorgeous woman who appears to be loving her life :)


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!