An Open Letter to my Mother – Day 4

4 Elul 5773
By Elizabeth Cohen

As the holidays are again almost upon us, and the new year approaches, I think increasingly of those I’ve lost. I suppose this is a part of growing older. This is an open letter to my mother who followed her faith until the end of her days.


Dear Mama,

I never thought I would miss you so acutely after almost 20 years. I hope you have peace and find your own loved ones, whereever your spirit landed.   Every day I think of you and wish I could call you to get your unique take on things in my life as well as my children’s lives.

I have learned by now that one never ceases worrying about their offspring, but at times I find this job crippling. As a Jewish woman, my faith tells me to provide shelter for those in need but I myself am older now and more fragile and sometimes am in need of sheltering myself. I have a debilitating disease and I want so much more quality time with my family before having to face the ugly realities of my disease. We Jews are strong fighters. I battle  every day and hope for better times ahead, yet I still I wonder more than once each day…”Will I see my daughters find happiness and settle down with nice partners and have kids? Will I be able to walk my girls down the aisle without a cane or wheelchair in attendance?” and, of course my greatest wish; to hold all my grand babies just once before my arms won’t support them anymore.

Is it wrong to be sad? Probably.  But at least now I understand what you were trying to tell me when you repeatedly asked me to take care and look after my brother. I want someone to do the same for my own daughters and son. They need a perfect, fit mother to guide them, support them and have faith in them. Now, I am only half of this and I am trying to find someone who will listen to me about my worries regarding my kids and promise me (as I promised you) to look after them. It takes a certain type of person to be there for others. I hope I find that “ one ”.

I miss you Mama more than you would have believed or have ever understood when you were alive. You made me what I am; the one who understood me on a cellular level. I loved you Mom, as imperfect as you were, you were mine to cherish. I never wasted a minute with you. They weren’t always ideal moments but they were all far too precious to fritter away.

The finale of this missile is:

“Gather ye Rosebuds”… ( Robert Herrick).

Time is not really eternal at all. It flits away on the wings of the shy  hummingbird and never can be coaxed back. Be appreciative of all that you have; in particular, that which can never be replaced.

When I arrive at Temple to pray at the high holy days, I will pray that my family has this message in their hearts on some level beneath their skin, deeper than anything an X-Ray can discern.

While it is true that life is for the living, when the physical body ‘times out” no-one can ever truly retrieve it. Memories will have to suffice.

One Response to An Open Letter to my Mother – Day 4

  1. Jeff Merkow August 12, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Thank you for sharing Liz. I truly admire your courage and your love of family. Karen and I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and memory-filled New Year.