Saying goodbye to my Mamaw

I’m struggling to blog these days, even though I have a lot of words in my head and things I want to get typed out and posted. I’m in the middle of yet another Rheumatoid Arthritis flare and am struggling to walk – for the second time this year – so I’m not in the best headspace. BUT it’s Christmastime (specifically, it’s Christmas Eve by the time I’m getting this posted), and I will always seek to find the joy in this beautiful season.


First and foremost, though, I’m mourning my wonderful grandmother, Lila, who passed away on Sunday, December 4, at 88 years old. I was able to finally go home to Indiana in mid-November (more on that later), and I got to see Mamaw while I was there. She was almost immobile, struggling to walk, and was so frail and weak, but her dementia allowed her to have a “good” day and she knew who I was, which was a blessing. She went into the hospital the day after I flew home, and then she moved into hospice a week later due to renal failure. She passed away peacefully with my mom, grandfather, and uncle by her side. I was able to attend her funeral via livestream, which I appreciated. Mamaw was from a different generation – deferring to my grandpa for decisions and going along with them even if she disagreed – but she was a model of the kind of person to be. Kind. Caring. Loving. Gentle. Addicted to Dairy Queen ice cream 😄. A excellent cook. A woman of deep. Deep faith. She was a lovely human, and I will miss her forever. I also can’t stop thinking about my grandfather, who is now alone for the first time in almost seven decades. They would’ve celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in late January.

Second, I’m thinking a lot about how my grandparents were so influential, even without my realizing it, in choosing the Church of the Nazarene as our denomination. My grandparents were Baptists when my mom was a kid and even when I was born, but they joined the Nazarene church well over 30 years ago now. I remember it causing a minor scandal in the family at the time since nobody really knew what the Nazarenes believed and assumed they were “holy rollers,” but my grandparents found happiness and spiritual support at their Nazarene church. Part of the reason I explored the denomination was due to their influence. So now that Mamaw is gone, I’m feeling blessed and honored that this, too, is my denomination and where we’ve found happiness with deep spiritual support.

Finally – it’s Christmas Eve! Here’s this year’s Christmas tree (pretty similar to last year). Despite our sadness, I still very much love this holiday and the beauty of the season!

I have some exciting news to share, and lots of thoughts stored up, so I hope to blog more in 2023, although I’m about to get A LOT busier (more to come!)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL WHO READ THIS!

Our tree – 2022

Grief and the holiday season (2020 edition)

Due to the fact that I’m a Jew, and I am still coping with grief, I have an incredibly complicated relationship with this time of year. Last year, the holiday season was horrible. I was bombarded with Christmas greetings and music and messages and, more than once, I ended up in a puddle of tears because of the memories of my childhood and the people – my brother, my father, my paternal grandparents, my mother-in-law – that have all died in the past four years. Add to that that I literally had a Salvation Army bell ringer yell at me because I didn’t wish her a “Merry Christmas” back, and I simply couldn’t handled it. I made a vow that in 2020, I would not be subjected to the onslaught of Christmas cheer and memories that were too painful to enjoy. For months now, I’ve been making plans to ensure that I didn’t have to get anywhere near a store between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The thing I hadn’t planned on, though, was that in a year, I would change. I would heal. I would feel better.

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On grief and Jewishness during the holiday season

I’m not going to lie – this Christmas season was hellish for me.  For one, I obviously don’t celebrate the holiday and when it’s shoved down my throat everywhere, I get irritated. Anyone who says there’s a “war on Christmas” and that people don’t say “Merry Christmas”  anymore has never been a Jew in December. I used to respond with, “Thanks, I don’t celebrate it,” but now I just smile, nod, and walk away. It’s not my holiday, it’s not something I believe in, but I know people are just trying to be kind and spread holiday cheer so I move on. It’s not a battle I feel like fighting. 

But mostly, this season was horrendous because I used to celebrate Christmas and so many of my childhood memories are wrapped up in the holiday. Now, when I think about those memories, I think of my father and my younger brother and the spike of pain that stabs me through the heart is almost unbearable. At every turn, I’m reminded of loss this time of year. It makes for dark times during a dark period on the calendar (at least in the Pacific Northwest!) Continue reading

Just what I needed

The mezuzah on the door post and Magen David hanging by our front door.

For the last couple of months, two ladies who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have been stopping by our house every third week or so. They are very aware of my status as a Jew because the posts by my front door make it clear where I land on matters of the spirit.

While I am firmly rooted in my “religion” (I put that word in quotes because Judaism is so much more to me than just a religious practice), I also believe in being kind.

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Elul and the passing of time

It’s common knowledge that as we get older, we become more aware of time. It seems to pass more quickly than in our youth, with the months and years marching past so fast that we feel dizzy.

When my father died, I initially counted his absence in days. It was important to do so because for the first 30 days, I wore a torn ribbon over my heart as an outward sign of my inward grief.  Once those 30 days passed, I still counted in days, ensuring that I recited the Mourner’s Kaddish each evening before saying the Sh’ma. As time passed, I began marking the loss of him in weeks.  Every Friday, I’d say to myself, “It’s been X weeks since Dad died.”

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A note on my absence

I’ve been silent these past months, not by choice but because grief, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks have rendered me immobile. I have felt stationary – unable to muster basic interest in most things besides sleeping, reading, and endlessly scrolling through social media feeds.  I’ve still pushed myself everyday; I’ve still gotten out of bed and gone to work, but that in and of itself has caused anxiety as I question my ability to do my job, my career choices, and my prospects for the future.

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