Hi Mom,

It’s been a while since I’ve written. My last post, when I just got engaged, pretty much described everything leading up to the wedding. I survived it all and even had a great time. A lot of people have been talking to me about it, asking me how it went, so here’s the list of what I thought I wouldn’t survive – and what ended up happening:

  • You won’t be there for me to tell you I am engaged. You weren’t, but I survived.
  • You won’t be there to help me with the preparations. But Grandma came with me to be fitted for the dress the first time (the seamstress offered her a job), my baby sister the second, and my good friend the third. Shanainai tied it for me and everything. I survived.
  • Your name will be listed as z”l (deceased) on my wedding invitation – or is it not supposed to be listed at all? I have no idea. A non-issue. We didn’t list any parents on the invite, we just made the invitation from us. That was easy. I survived.
  • You won’t be at the signing of the Ketubah. Neither was any other female. If anything, you were there, but I wasn’t. I didn’t even know when it happened. Survived.
  • You won’t be walking down the aisle. Grandma went with me instead. The rabbi suggested it, and I loved the idea. So did she. Definitely survived.
  • You won’t be under the chuppah with me. Grandma was. But then again, so were you. I know it was you that made that wind blow and knock everything over. Definitely survived.
  • You won’t be beaming down at me. Ever. No, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I guess I accepted it, so I survived.

The truth is, the  most stress I had about and from the wedding was that I was afraid of the attention. I was hoping no one would mention you when they saw me, and thankfully just about no one did, other than a few of the elderly. But I had that invisible “pretend you are someone else” wall up, and it worked perfectly.

In fact, everything went very smoothly, from the planning (which I hated, but I would have hated it if you were here, too, to be fair), all the way through the wedding. I had more offers of help than I knew what to do with, and The Boy and I knew what we wanted and wouldn’t let anyone bully us into something we didn’t want to do. Well, we did invite a few people I didn’t want to invite, but The Boy was right, it wasn’t worth the fight.

I had the sleeves from your dress removed, and the back opened up with a corset-type thing to tie it with, and the dress ended up being great. I would have preferred to be a few pounds lighter, but who wouldn’t… Dad’s best friend growing up actually asked me at the wedding if it was your dress – he somehow remembered your dress from 36 years before!

I’m so happy I got to wear it. There were a few times where I felt I  missed out on the choosing-a-dress part of the wedding, but the truth is it doesn’t matter – who wouldn’t rather wear their mother’s dress if it was as gorgeous as it is? There were times where I would suddenly think, I can’t believe my mom danced in this and ate in this and got married in this. I thought it would make me cry, but I loved it. By the way, I hope you didn’t take it personally that I changed clothes when we were dancing. I was just jealous of The Boy and wanted to be part of the t-shirt fun, too.

The wedding itself went by in a second and a half, like everyone said it would. I survived the family picture taking (mostly because people were already coming, so I just wanted it to be over), the reception was great, and the hike to the chuppah was a lot of fun. After a brief 10 minutes when we couldn’t find Grandma, she appeared, and the ceremony started.

It was the fastest 10 minutes of my life. I felt like an actress playing a part, just I was surrounded by people I love instead of random actors and stand-ins. At one point, the rabbi said that Jewish tradition says that 3 generations back come to visit at the chuppah, and that we have to mention your absence. I swear, he could have been talking about sauerkraut if you were to judge by my reaction. I can’t believe how calm I was. The only time a few tears fell down my face was when I heard Grandma sniffling beside me. Of course, The Boy is amazing and took  me hand the second he heard it, just to beam some extra strength into me (which worked, of course).

And then she asked when do we kiss already, so that was over.

The rabbi picked up one of the glasses of wine, started the first prayer, and then an insane gust of wind blew in and knocked everything over – the other glass, the ring, etc.

My reaction: Yey, The Boy broke the glass succesfully

The reaction of the 175 other people at the wedding: That was Talia’s mom.

Thankfully, I made no connection. I didn’t think about it at the chuppah, I didn’t realize it during the wedding, and only later when I got home, people started talking to me about it.

And as it turns out, everyone thought it.

So I’ve accepted it. Even though I am not mystical in any way, I kind of like the idea that you made a statement and said, “Ahem! I am here! I am in the dress and the wind and the glass of wine that just shattered on the floor.”

So the wedding went by smoothly, and honestly, it couldn’t have been more perfect, that is other than you actually being there. Everyone laughed and danced and ate and had a great time.

I waited a while to write about the wedding because I was waiting for a nervous breakdown. A week passed, another week passed, and another, and I was OK. I don’t know how. And then suddenly it was just over; Reports of the impending emotional storm were greatly exaggerated.

A few weeks after the wedding, I started feeling really weird. Not sick or anything, but just weird. After a few more weeks of weirdness, I decided to take a small test.

It had 2 definite lines on it. I am pregnant.

A few weeks later, the doctor was able to tell me exactly what day we conceived.

It was 5 days after the wedding.

On your wedding anniversary.

Again, I’m writing a post at 3:30 am, but this time I’m not crying. Since this blog exists so I can purge what’s on my mind, I’ve decided to write in hopes that it will allow me to sleep (however much time I still have left).

I’ve come to feel, over the past month or so, that we lost much more than just our mother. We lost our family as we know it, and the dynamics have completely changed. This was to be expected, I guess, to a certain degree, though I honestly didn’t think about it when she was dying.

But we’ve lost so much more. The family and friends of the family who we would see on a regular basis (at least a few times a year), who we have seen once or twice, for example (excluding my mother’s memorial, since that doesn’t count as fun). I promise that I am not angry – I know that my immediately family doesn’t not own exclusive rights to mourning my mother.

With all the good intentions possible, and as much as some people keep in touch (and others really don’t, and I don’t care, for the most part), once the initial mourning period passed, everyone had to go on with their lives. This includes us, of course, and my mom’s friends and other family members.

The thing is, that along with the dreams of having my mom at my wedding and babysitting my kids, a few other dreams have died. People who would have us over – basically since birth – at least a few times a year for little celebrations, holidays, or just because, suddenly overlooked us during these events this year.

It’s OK – no one owes us anything. We aren’t their children or their responsibility. However, my dreams used to include many of these people, and I’ve come to realize that these dreams have passed with my mother. This isn’t out of cruelty – having spoken to one of the people today, I fully understand her pain the hard year she’s had in losing her best friend. On our side, however, it feels like we have been gently pushed away because dealing with my mom being gone is hard.

I’m the last person who can be angry about this – I have pushed away many people this year. At least, in the few months before she died and the first few after. Again, I am not complaining about anyone’s actions – I doubt anyone had the intention of purposefully shunning us from their lives. However, not being invited to birthday parties, brits, and other family events has definitely contributed to the sense of loss.

If my mother’s death can be seen as a pebble thrown in a pond, each ripple around it is one more aspect of our life that has completely changed as a result of her loss. Her physical absence, with all that comes with it, followed by changing family dynamics, family who has moved on without us, friends who don’t know how to talk to us, and there are probably more ripples that I have yet to discover.

I’m very lucky, however. With all that I’ve lost, I know there is so much I’ve gained. I have a great family who, despite everything, is still very close. We may not see our father as often as we’d like to (his new wife lives far from us, so they split their time until her 17 year old finishes high school), but when it comes down to it, there’s no doubt in my mind that he will be there when we really need him.Plus now we have 2 brothers. We always wanted brothers. 🙂

People who used to provide emotional support have been replaced with others. I have wonderful friends who, luckily for me, did not give up on me when I stopped talking to the world. And lastly, but totally not least, The Boy and his family, who couldn’t possibly treat me as more of a family member, including the teasing, calling when I’m sick to see how I am, and buying me random gifts because “she saw it in the store and thought of me.” That’s a really big gain.

This blog is usually about the negative aspects of my life as they relate to my mother’s death. However, it is important for me to point out that I have so much to be thankful for. This year took away one of the most important people in my life; But it also gave me many gifts.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’d like to list everything that I am thankful for:

I am thankful for my family. I probably wouldn’t have gotten through this year without them. As cliche as it sounds, they are my family and I love each and every one of them, even if they annoy me sometimes.

I am thankful for my health and the health of my family members. This was never under-appreciated, but it’s never been more appreciated than now.

I am thankful for my amazing nephew and niece. I don’t even have words to describe how much I love those two kids.

I am thankful that my sister and brother-in-law made them. 🙂

I am thankful that my mom had the opportunity to be a grandmother. While she was taken way too soon, and my children and nieces and nephews will never know her (my nephew remembers her, but he was 3.5 when she died), I am thankful she got to express the joy of having grandchildren.

I am thankful for the 31 years that I had my mother. When I’m feeling really down, I remind myself that many people didn’t have that long with their own mothers. Or those who have mothers, but not the privilege of having a wonderful mother like mine.

I am thankful for The Boy. He has enriched my life in ways I never thought possible.

I am thankful for The Boy’s family. They took me in as their own from the day I met them, and I can honestly say I love them all.

I am thankful for my incredible friends. Amazing isn’t a strong enough work to describe this point, but unfortunately there aren’t enough adjectives to describe how lucky I am in this department. It always amazes me how they were always there when I needed them, even at the expense of their own personal lives.

I am thankful for my dance studio. Other than losing about 20 lbs and making more of the aforementioned incredible friends, the studio was my refuge. It is what kept my head above water and kept me from sinking. It retained my sanity and gave me a sanctuary where I could be temporarily released from my thoughts and the darkness I was in for so long. It gave me a way to be with and around people without actually having to be with and around people. For that I will be eternally grateful.

I am thankful that I get to wake up every morning and go to a job that I love.

I am thankful that nothing happened at the break in when we just moved into our new apartment; That nothing was stolen and no one got hurt.

I am thankful that my father found a new companion.

I am thankful that she is a wonderful woman who we all really like. I know that I will grow to love her one day. I am already crazy about her sons.

I am thankful that through all our pain, we are able to see the many gifts that we have, and that, in my opinion, is the greatest gift of all.