Between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, during those 10 days of Awe in 2012, I had a dream. I woke up with it so clearly in my head, not sure if I had just had it or if my brain worked hard all night to keep it front and center for me to remember. It was crisp and clear – images and audio – like I was watching a movie.
I was standing on our Temple Israel bema looking out at family and friends, eulogizing my mother. Most of the faces were blurred even though I knew who they were. I could see my cousin, Nina, very close up, maybe in the front row. She was smiling her encouraging, “you got this” smile. Gentle and loving, nodding her head at me as if to say “keep moving forward – that’s all you have to do.”
And in the dream I said, “It took us 42 years, but I finally figured out how to be with my mother in a quieter, calmer, non angry way. A rarer thing for us I could never have predicted. It was through the structure of Shabbat Services at New Bridge on the Charles.” In that safety, the safety of repetition, ritual and Rabbi Karen, I grew. And I met all sorts of other parent-like people who gave freely – blessings, advice, confidence and kindness: Lois, Alan, Doreen, Gert, Phyllis, Harry, and their children, and their children’s children in some instances. And every week, I would wait, for page 45 of the Siddur: Ahavah Rabbah – Shema Blessing #2: Revelation.
Thank you G*d, for the loving gift of Torah
With great love have You loved us, Adonai our G*d; with great and extra tenderness You have pitied us. Our Parent, our Ruler, for the sake of our ancestors who trusted in You, and whom You taught life-giving laws, be kind to us, too, and teach us. Our merciful Parent, treat us with mercy, and help our minds to understand Your Torah and cause our hearts to hold tight to Your commandments. Unify our hearts to love and respect Your name so that we will never be ashamed. For we trust in Your holy, great and awe-inspiring Name – may we rejoice in Your saving power.
And there on Saturday mornings, in that parenting, I found mercy for her life of suffering. It was the best we could ever hope for, these moments of compassion in the last years of her life.
There have been so many care givers, providers, doctors, therapists, case workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, behaviorists, sleep specialists, OTs, PTs, neurologists, cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, aides and nurses – hard to thank them all by name. They have, to a person, done their patient best to make my mother’s life better, broader in its scope, more comfortable. The communities of Hebrew Senior Life, and especially Hebrew Rehab and New Bridge on the Charles, have provided this family with a semblance of safety, consistency, and wellbeing that we could not have otherwise created. Like Saturday morning Shabbat Services at Newbridge, they are the people who brought us together – parent and child, a quiet, compassionate connection in the end. It must have been written so always, even if we didn’t always know it was so.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016
image courtesy of http://infullbloom.us/5345/prep-now-for-rosh-hashanah-yom-kippur-and-the-days-of-awe-5777/