Posts Tagged ‘memory’

BreatheThere are days and weeks when I know that I don’t belong – anywhere. The loneliness seeps in and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am alone. The sadness settles deep inside my core until I can take a deep breath and navigate the jagged edges of my soul.

I know that I am not alone when I say that certain seasons are a trigger. The good news is that after decades of being reintroduced to the darkness every year, I have learned to ride the waves and trust that these feelings will not last forever.

I have learned to breathe deeply.

This week has been really tough in some ways, but profoundly enlightening in other ways. I have allowed myself to ride the waves of emotions and to take the time to face whatever I am feeling at any given moment.

And yes, I am alone, but that is ok.  I don’t believe most people want to hear about what the winter holidays were like for me growing up. And I don’t think anyone wants to hear what I was doing 28 years ago this week. The stories are part of what was, but not really who I am today. And yet. . .

The memory is a funny thing. Even when you think all is ok, you find out that it isn’t when the watershed opens at the least expected moment.

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining an Episcopal church for Christmas Eve services. From beginning to end, it was a really beautiful service. Except there was this moment that triggered a flood of emotions. The only problem is that I stood paralyzed by my inability to cry, to run, or to scream. As I listened to Hymn 97, I remembered 37 years prior when I was forced to solo sing the chorus of that very hymn in front of a congregation in a Methodist church.

At the time, I was a young Jewish girl living in a foster home somewhere in Arbutus, Maryland. The family made me go to church every Sunday; I don’t know if I realized that I could say ‘no’ or that I could simply refuse to go. I didn’t have the tools and no one would have heard me if I did.

While the memory flooded my spirit on Sunday night, I also had this incredible moment that that hymn was transformed into something beautiful instead of the memory of a young girl who was alone at one of the hardest times of her life.

No child should be forced to practice a faith that isn’t their own. No child should lose their voice to a system that is broken, but the good news is that the story didn’t end there. On Sunday night, I was able to get lost in the memory only to be ignited by the beautiful passion that that same hymn was able to transform a beautiful community into a holy one. In a spiritual moment, I was able to transform a dark memory and create new memories.

So while I sometimes feel alone, what I know today is some beautiful things can evolve from a moment alone. May I be blessed to remember that while I may have moments when I feel alone, I have a village to hold me tight and love me for the person I am.

Breathing deeply – now and always,


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RIP Zach Lederer. RIP Superman Sam.  RIP Liv Wise.   RIP So Many More. . . . 

In the last few months, amazing young people with so much life in front of them lost their struggle for life.  Brain cancer took their last breath away.  (Correction: Sammy died of refractory acute myeloid leukemia another form of cancer.)

Remembering. . . .

While I did not know any of these beautiful souls; my heart crumbles with each and every loss.  My entire being feels the loss and then remembers how much our family once suffered as we fought for Aryeh’s life.  Yes he not only thrived, but survived in spite of losing most of his teenage years to illness, a very large (6.5 cm all around) arachnoid cyst on the right temporal lobe of his brain.  Many sleepless nights, everlasting tears, intense pain, and two brain surgeries later, I still never go a day without remembering what happened.

Aryeh at the Kotel Summer 2012 - Seeing this photo touched me deeply.  At one time, the possibility of Aryeh thriving would have been a dream. . .. .

Aryeh at the Kotel Summer 2012 – Seeing this photo touched me deeply. At one time, the possibility of Aryeh thriving would have been a dream. . .. .

As a mother, I recall the sleepless nights, the fear of loss, the stress on our family, the financial realities, and the agony my son faced every moment of his life for over 3.5 years.  I never questioned why him, but I did always pray for his pain to cease in any way it could.  I hated seeing Aryeh in pain; it nearly destroyed me.  There was nothing I could do; sometimes it felt like no one could help. Eventually one special doctor made all the difference.Any time a loved one has to watch a child suffer is profoundly horrible.

There are no words to express the darkness that looms with each breath.  Even as you hope all will be ok, fear of hoping can be paralyzing too.  Each of us that have faced serious illnesses knows that sometimes there are no tomorrows.  Since March 2007, I see the world through different eyes.  I fear loss, but almost never forget to live fully.  While there is no such thing as a given, nearly every moment in life is precious.

Each of the losses above have flooded me with memories of Aryeh’s journey.  The journey to health from serious illness sucks and yet we still get to choose (mostly) how we navigate our journeys. All I can say is wow as the tears run down my face. My hope is that brain cancer and all serious illnesses find a cure. No one should have to endure this pain and/or this loss.

Remembering. . .

My heart goes out to Lederer, Sommer, and Wise families and to every family that has ever had to navigate a health journey.   Losing  is the worst.  May the souls of their loved ones be at peace; may their memories be a blessing for good.

For more information on the amazing young people mentioned above:

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Most of life has been good to me, but there have been moments in my youth that have come back to haunt me….not once, not twice, but many times over the course of my lifetime.  Even though I have been blessed to heal and move forward, my memory has remained.


All of us have moments of intense loss, painful tragedies, or stories that feel better left unsaid.  Life happens.  For the most part we find a way to move forward, to take one step and then another and then another until we find a new norm.  That, my friend, is one of life’s gifts.

Every now and again, something triggers the pain the memory, the fear. . . emotions take over and we seem to relive the moment that literally took our breath away and forced us to deal with our feelings.  Tonight was such a night.

One moment, I was walking, humming to myself, and thinking about some people in my life that are in need of healing.  I was in my own beautiful world, feeling calm and peaceful.  I was visioning people I love and care for in a better state of health and then I heard the noises that left me in fear for my life.  Loud screams, horrible pain, and violent sounds.  In a moment, I was transformed into a very scared human being who was terrified because I didn’t know what the next moment would bring.  After a moment, I called the police and I came home as fast as I could.  And I was ok; I am still ok.  For now, I am just dealing with the skeletons in my closet; they will be gone by morning.

In the 10 minutes that I was stuck outside with the noises and my fear, I felt my entire body tighten with fear as the sweat rolled down my face, down my neck, down my back.  A moment can change everything; a moment did change everything.  The tranquility I felt is gone, but at least in this moment, I feel safe.

While I don’t know what went down, I do know that the vulnerability I felt until I made it home cut like a knife.  I am ok, but nothing  can ever prepare me for that moment that the memories come racing back and I feel like the little girl that experienced violence and pain.  The memories never really go away; they find a quiet space to rest until the peacefulness comes to a screeching halt with a trigger.

Violence happens, accidents occur, and we do move forward. . . . .

Tonight was just a moment.  My hope is that all is really ok; perhaps all I heard was a haunted memory.  I am so grateful that the moment that brought so much fear is over and that I am safe at home.  My labored breath of an hour ago is becoming easier.

Tomorrow will be a great day! No longer do I have to live in fear. . . .the moment is over.

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Death happens.  Sometimes we see it coming; sometimes it hits us by surprise.  But in the end, no one lasts forever.

When I consider the reality of death with broad strokes, I find myself in a quiet and peaceful space.  Death happens and that is really ok.  Mostly.

And then reality strikes.  Someone you love is dead and you can no longer talk to them; unspoken words are left unsaid.  After someone dies you can no longer hold them in your arms, kiss them on the forehead, or touch them gently in passing.  After someone you love dies, you can never physically do the the things you used to do with them.  Memories help you through the loss; while you can’t be with those you love physically, you can treasure the memories.

Tomorrow is never a given.

What I know is that life matters; each and every moment makes a difference.  If we are lucky we live fully and learn from both gifts and challenges.  Each step will ultimately lead us to where we are heading.  My hope is that I always live in a place of kindness and good intentions with not only those I love, but with the world around me.  Most of us don’t know when the end of our days will come.  Knowing that I live fully now and that my loved ones know they are loved is critical in my life.

A Moment of Reality

Nothing in life is perfect.  None of us are capable of being on our best behavior every moment of every day.  We are human beings; we have good days and more challenging ones.  May I always walk gently and may my spirit  be full of light.

You just never know what tomorrow will bring. . . .

Nearly two weeks ago, three families/people that I love faced the death of a loved one. The first death was for a young woman who’s entire energy reverberated life; she had so much to give and a rare illness stripped her of her life.  She died tragically after enduring tremendous pain.  The other two of the deaths were both tragic and sudden.  There is no words that I can say to help my beloved friends, all I can do is listen and surround them with loving energy.  My guess is due to the tragic nature of each death, sadness will quite possibly permeate the survivors for a very long time.

As a spectator in watching my friends experience grief, I find myself considering my  life and whether or not I am walking with integrity and light. Since you never know what tomorrow might bring, I want to know if I am making a difference in the life I live.  Will my children remember me with a spark in their eyes? Do I make people smile? Have I done enough to change the world? What more do I need to do to make a difference?  Should I reconsider some of my views and open my eyes a little more widely?  Have I made a difference in the lives of those I love, my friends, my students? Am I being the best person I can be?

I’ve made some mistakes in my connection with some people that I have loved.  Over the past few years, I have had to look deeply inside myself after navigating some very painful interactions.  Losing friends never feels good.  With each loss, I struggle to come to grips with with the fact that connections sometimes end and each ending feels like death.  Only you can’t sit shiva (mourn) for the loss of a good friend, not when they are alive and thriving outside of your life.  What I have learned in the last few years is that death can be both the finality of life and at times it can be the finality of a connection.

Life incorporates so many realities and few of them are simplistic.  May I always take the lessons I learn from life and from death and incorporate them into our life.  And may those that lost their loved ones find blessings in their memories.


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(Note:  My hope is to write Omer Reflections as they come to me.  Life is full these days, I will do my best.)

Sabino Canyon's Road to Blessings

Sabino Canyon’s Road towards Liberation

For me, counting the Omer is about reflection.  Through the counting I actively work towards coming to grips with different parts of my essence while also looking at how I interact with the world around me. As we count the days from slavery to freedom, I reflect on the biblical journey from Pesach to Shavuot and I take an accounting of the slavery that surrounds me as I try to do my part to put slavery on a shelf that will one day become a mere memory.

There are seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot; each week has a big theme worthy of exploration with daily chapters that allow us to experience deeper discovery.  As in all philosophies, there is no one correct way of moving through this journey.

With each day, I can choose how I will do my dance of emergence.  In this week of chesed, loving-kindness, I get to decide how I will navigate all that is going on in my world.  There is nothing simple about my current journey.  With each breath I am struggling to figure out how I can live with integrity while I face personal and professional struggles.

In this moment, I am struggling. Yet I am standing firm in my commitment to live consciously and to face my journey with both an inner and outer loving-kindness.

As the day begins to wane, I am looking at the 5th day, Hod she b’Chesed, acceptance within loving-kindness. or perhaps withdrawing my ego in order to make room for true loving-kindness.  Life is what it is and yet I have many roles to play in making things work in the best possible way.

At this moment, my ego has evolved.  I no longer feel I have the answers as I once did.  With that in mind, it is my job to navigate the world with openness. I need to breathe in the goodness, breathe out the despair and allow the answers to life’s challenges to come as they can.  And while that is happening, I need to remain with chesed in my heart and in my being.

May I have the ability to trust the universe and allow all of the answers come in their right time.

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Helen Gist-Tselikidis was a beloved friend of mine; my entire family loved her.  Finding out she died a little more than a week ago has touched me deeply.  In fact, I am finding her touching me deeply with each breath.  Some moments are easier than others and I am struggling with my desire to be with her family, to give them a hug and to receive their love in return would be amazing.

Below are the words that I shared with Laz, Jessie and Nico about the woman they loved deeply and what she meant to me.  We could all learn from Helen! Her memory is a blessing for good and I wish she could still be with us today.

Memories to share:

My Dearest Laz, Jess, and Nico,

Your family has always touched us; we met you over the course of a couple of years, but from the moment we met your dad that first time we were in the shop, we felt uplifted by each and every one of you.

Your mom was a very quick friend!  Her loving and incredibly transparent energy was a joy; she was real in every way.  I would call your mom sometimes, just to have time with someone who was truly herself at every moment.

There are so many stories I could share with you, below are just a few.

One of the funniest moments came when I invited Helen for our Passover Seder.  She was really excited to come and she seemed a little anxious too.  But she drove all the way out to Bowie, where we lived at the time, showing up 3 or 4 hours late.  I was so excited to have her regardless of what time she showed.  I was bummed that she missed most of the seder, but happy she made it for dessert.  🙂

The best moment of the evening came when one of my friends politely introduced himself by name.  In the midst of a house full of people, I heard her say loudly, “Honey, there is NO NEED for you to tell me your name, I just won’t remember it; I lost my memory as soon as I went through menopause.”

Another time, I brought a good friend of mine into your shop from Texas.  I am not certain if she had ever met a rabbi up close and personal, but she decided he needed to have a Budha so she gave him hers. 🙂

A third and final story:  We were touched to have you and your mother understand the power of tie-dye for our family.  As Aryeh, my son, struggled for his life and then later his recovery, you and your mom helped in tremendous ways.  The biggest gift you gave was when you made a beautiful tie dye from Aryeh’s color directions that said Life in Hebrew, the wall hanging gave him and still gives him the healing energy he seeks.

In fact, Aryeh brought a small Life (Chai) bandana with him to Israel where he is now so that he could share the story of his wall hanging with his new friends.  Since that time, we have also been giving  out tie dye bandanas to people in need of healing.  Funny, she said she would make more for us when we were last there….not sure if she did, but giving these bandanas with healing energy has given countless people something to hold and treasure as they struggle to heal.

Your mother’s capacity to love unconditionally as well as her incredible transparency has helped give my own voice the ability to be more honest.

I will always love Helen and I am grateful that both she and your dad brought our family to each of you.

May your mother’s memory be a blessing for good!

With love, light, and blessings, Chava

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When people die in Judaism, we often say, “may the dead person’s memory be a blessing for good.”  Until tonight, I have never realized that it could make sense to say that saying for someone that causes so much pain to her only daughter.  I could never say that saying myself or acknowledge it when another human being said it directly to me in reference to my mother.  Today my entire opinion of the saying has changed.

Twenty-two years ago, Marilyn Bloomberg, my mother, took her very last breath; her life was full of darkness and pain (she felt it and perpetrated it) yet tonight I realized that I could say that my mother’s memory was a blessing for good. My brother and I are both alive and thriving-yay!!!!

My mother was full of darkness; she caused me substantial pain with her physical and mental cruelty.  The wounds cut deep and yet I am a healthy and happy woman raising two amazing sons.  I learned so much from my experience of being Marilyn’s daughter.  I learned to be the beautiful soul that I am.  Two years ago, I shared what I learned from my mother in my blog http://wp.me/pthnB-2o.  Feel free to read.

I’d like to say that I am an easy-going soul that is successful in most every way.  Instead I can say that I am fairly normal.  I am creative, I am intense, and I march to my own drummer.  All of that leads to a few challenges within my life.  Yet I can say with a full heart, that I am who I am because I was my mother’s daughter.  I am feeling blessed.

Tonight I lit a flaming red candle in honor of my mother’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death.  I remember her.  Lighting a candle that is less than traditional is a way of honoring her memory and acknowledging reality.  The traditional candle could never adequately represent where I stand in Judaism or with my mother’s memory.  But today I am smiling because my mother has two fantastic children and seven precious grandchildren–I’d say that Marilyn’s legacy is worth noting for good.

May my mother’s memory be a blessing for good. . . .

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