Archives for category: family

me and dad 2

Forgiveness is the final form of love.
― Reinhold Niebuhr

Dear Dad,

Soon it’ll be eight months since we lost you. Eight months since I heard your voice. Eight months since I heard you say, “I love you.”

I miss you Dad.

Grieving your loss, your suicide, has been hard. It’s a complicated journey, not at all linear like those stages of grief would have you believe. Leora gave a great analogy of the grieving process. It’s like the game Chutes and Ladders. Every day, you get up out of bed, you roll the dice and you move along the game board. Square by square, step by step you move ever so slowly ahead. Sometimes you land on a ladder and you get to advance even faster, headed towards the finish line. But just as easily, you can land on a chute, and find yourself sliding backward, and starting all over again. And so it is with grief. One step forward, two steps back. The times when the ladder allows you to move days, even weeks, through the loss with pain that is less palpable and ever present. Those are the days that remind you that joy, happiness, even a sense of peace, are possible. They tell you healing is happening. And then there are the days when triggers abound; holidays, remembrances, a television show, a book, something that opens the gate and allows the sadness, the pain, the loss, the missing… to find it’s way back onto center stage. Yes, I do believe that Leora got it right. Chutes and Ladders is the perfect analogy to the grieving process.

Dad, I’ve been angry at you for a while. It didn’t happen right away. Those early days, weeks and months were simply filled with shock, sadness, guilt and a tragic sense of disbelief. But somewhere along the way, I got angry. Suicide, if I’m being honest, feels like a choice sometimes. No, I wouldn’t dare allow someone who is not a survivor of suicide loss to say such a thing. But, as the survivors, the ones left behind, it feels like abandonment. We can say it, because we are living it. I’m the daughter, and you’re the dad. And dads aren’t supposed to just leave their children.

I’ve railed at you, yelled and screamed at the top of my lungs, until my voice was gone. I’ve pounded on and hit things until my knuckles were bloody and my fingers were swollen. I’ve thrown and shattered things. None of these are constructive acts, but sometimes anger simply wants, needs, to get out. And always, when I’m done, there is some relief, there is exhaustion and there is sadness.

But I don’t want to be angry at you anymore Dad. You must have been in such unimaginable pain to do what you did. Mom said something that truly resonated with me. When she stands at your grave, even if she is angry, she realizes that of all of us, no matter how hard our journey, it was you who got the worst end of this deal. Because we will find healing, we will laugh again, celebrate again and make new memories. But you, you will never again get to be a part of that. That is the ultimate consequence and cost of suicide isn’t it?

So Daddy, I forgive you. You would never have done this if you had the slightest sense of clarity in that moment. And I know you would never have wanted to cause us so much pain. I close my eyes and I hear you tell me you are sorry. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me; wishful thinking. Or maybe, in the still and quiet moments, you are with me. I hope that you are.

I miss you Dad. It’s Chanukah. Tonight, we will light the sixth light on the Hannukiyah. Remember our first Chanukah, after we reconciled? I do. We lit the candles together via Skype. You had used flashlights and tape to turn yourself into a human menorah. And on another night, you created an alter ego, dressed in full rap attire, you became Jew-Z-Big.

You had that silly and playful side in you. You had joy within you, and joyful moments that made up your life’s story. But you had your fair share of demons too. You were not a resilient man, and change was never easy for you. Optimism didn’t come readily to you, nor did faith in the unknown. You were a pragmatist, and a worrier. And when depression and anxiety came this time around, I do believe they played on these parts of you, and they grew far too powerful for you to bear. Through the cracks in your armor, they got inside and poisoned your sense of self, until all you were left with was a vision of being a burden, of being worthless, of somehow failing us. The pain that took hold in that dark room, on that dark night must’ve simply been unbearable. And all that you wanted, was for the pain and suffering to end. You didn’t choose to leave us. You could no longer see us, our love for you was obscured, clouded by suffering. And that will always break my heart.

So when I light the candles tonight Daddy, through my tears, I will devote tonight’s candle to you.
For the light of forgiveness that I offer to you
And for the light of forgiveness we found when we reconciled four years ago
For the light of memories that mark happier days
For the light I hope to shine on that which took you from us; mental illness & suicide
For the light that will guide me through the Chutes and Ladders of grief
For the light, the Divine Spark that you carried within, even though you couldn’t always feel it and struggled to trust in it
For the ember of you, that I carry within me and pass on to my children
For the light of love that we were blessed to know, in all of it’s complicated, messy and awesome glory
And in the warm glow of the candles, and in the stars up above, I will look for you… always. And the light of my love, I pray, will reach you.

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
― Og Mandino

dad and yael

Death is harder on those who are left behind.
― Robert La Fosse, Nothing To Hide


Dear Dad,

Today marks six months since your death. A half a year has gone by since you were here. In some ways it feels like just yesterday and in other ways, it feels like a lifetime…

Here’s the thing Dad, I want to be clear. I’m in a really angry stage of grief right now. I’m angry at you, I’m angry at God and I don’t know what to do with it all. I mean you are not here. If you were, damn it I would sit you down and yell at you. I would scream at you. I would demand that you fix the fucking mess that you left behind. But you’re not, and I can’t.

Yesterday, as I sat in my therapist’s office, she suggested that I tell you how I feel. Write a letter, put it out there. Tell your father everything…

I don’t know. It’s not quite the same. I mean, I want to yell. I want to scream at the top of my lungs. I want you to look me in the eye. I want you to see, really see, the pain that you have caused.

I’ve apologized to you a million times Daddy. A million times I’ve shared my regret, the missed signs, the things I could have done, should have seen. Sometimes my shoulders are so heavy with that burden that I can barely walk. But what about you? Where the hell is your sorry, where the hell is your regret?

Do you have any idea of the damage you have done?
In one single moment, you forever altered the course of our family. You set off a grenade, loaded with shrapnel, into the center of our worlds. And while you are gone, we are left picking up the fucking pieces of our shattered hearts, our wounded souls, our very selves. And where are you? You’re gone! You’re just fucking gone!

I get it, on that very cerebral level, I understand that it was an illness. I can step back and see that you were suffering, and that you saw death as the only way to end your pain. But it doesn’t resonate on an emotional level. There, it simply feels like you left us, you abandoned us, you chose death over those who loved you most. I mean shit Dad, mom was in the house, I was just a phone call away. You were not alone. You were not fucking alone!!!

Fathers are not supposed to just willingly leave their children! How did you not remember that? We were estranged for six years Dad. We promised one another that never again would we let anything get in the way of our relationship. We would not let resentment or anger simmer, we would not let molehills become insurmountable mountains, we would not leave each other again. We had a deal and you fucking broke it!!!

I want to know why!

You died for nothing Dad! Do you hear me?! For nothing!! You were not terminal. Perhaps chronic, chronic anxiety, chronic depression but you had just begun treatment. You didn’t even give it a chance to work!

I remember a conversation we had only a few weeks before you died. We talked about that serious bout of depression you had gone through when I was a kid. You had left your job. You had a wife, two kids and instant regret at the choice that you had made. I would wake up at night and hear you crying, shouting at the top of your lungs…

God, I want to die.
I want to kill myself.
What did I do?
I want to die!
I want to die!

You would berate yourself. I would go off to school and wonder if you would be alive when I got home. I remember asking mommy so many times if you were going to kill yourself? I was terrified.

We talked about all of this and you, after all of these years, apologized for the first time. You acknowledged the pain, fear and anguish you must have caused for your children. How frightening it must have been. How deeply sorry you were for ever causing such hurt. I told you that I forgave you long ago. I reminded you that you got through that dark period. That you could get through this one too. You just had to tread water. You had to let us help to keep you afloat. You had to embrace real help, therapy, medication, whatever it would take. You had to be willing to peel back the layers and, once and for all, come to know and understand yourself. You said that you knew that.
You said that you would do that.

You lied! At least that is how it feels. How could you fucking apologize to me for the words and still end up taking your own life anyway. How could you do that!!!

I am so angry Dad. I can’t even access you in life right now. I look at pictures and I can’t feel fond remembrances, I can’t touch the sweet, it is so overpowered by bitter right now. I can’t remember you, feel you, reflect on you in life because it is all so clouded in your death. How did suicide become the final footnote in your story?

I want to tell you all of these things. I can’t scream on a keyboard, I can’t capture the tears that are flowing as I right this. The rage that coincides with my grief! There are not enough exclamation points to contain my visceral anguish!

I’m angry.
I’m so fucking angry Daddy.
Why would you do this?
Why, why, why, why???
It is the unanswerable question that we have to learn to live with.

I sit in therapy.
I do the grief work.
I muddle through it day in and day out.
I have good days and bad.
Today is a bad one.

I miss you.
I’m so mad at you.
You shouldn’t have done this Daddy!
You deserved better.
We deserved better.

I don’t feel better after writing this. It’s not cathartic this time. Who am I kidding? You aren’t logging in to read my latest blog post. But I have to believe that you see…

You see the tears.
You see the pain.
You see the struggles.
You see your family picking up the pieces.
In one desperate moment, you forever altered us.
You left.
We are here.
Do you see us Daddy.
Are you sorry?
Do you weep?
Do you ask us for forgiveness?
I wonder…

I want you to fix it Dad.
I’m like a child, stomping my feet, tantruming, desperate to make myself seen…
It’s your damn mess.
So why are we the ones left cleaning it up?
Why Daddy?!
I’m screaming, I’m crying, I’m reviling, I’m missing all at once.
It’s exhausting!
I’m tired Dad.
As I sink back into the quietness that follows the anger, I revert back to those childlike words.
It’s not fair.
It’s just not fair.
You shouldn’t have done it Dad.
And I want you to fix it.
But you can’t.
So I must.
Like Humpty Dumpty after the fall.
I am picking up the pieces.
The pieces you left behind.

I will do it. I will endure it. I will get through it. I will rebuild. Even if it takes everything I’ve got. Even when grief hits me like a sledgehammer. I’ll get back up. I’ll keep fighting. Because I deserve it. Because I am loved. Because the best parts of me will be better and I will learn from this.
I will bear the scars.
I will find my way to healing and to wholeness.
I won’t give up.
You shouldn’t have either!
And I’m so angry that you did Dad.
You should have chosen life.
You should have fought.
Fuck all of the cerebral understanding.
Do you hear me?
Fuck it!
Because the truth is it feels far more personal than that.
Can other people say it?
Hell, no!!
Not unless they’re living with the aftermath.
Not unless they’ve lost a loved one to suicide.
But I can say it.
Because I’m living it.
I’m living with it.
I’m living with this new identity that feels so fucking foreign.
I am now a Survivor of Suicide Loss.

I’ll tell you something Dad…
God’s honest truth.
Some days it feels like you took the easy way out.
And I’m fighting like hell to forgive you for that.

Your Daughter…

There would have been time for such a word. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
― Wiliam Shakspeare

Grief (1)

shofar two

High Holiday services were brutal for me. Unusual for the wife of the rabbi to say out loud, I know. But there it is. Five months after my father’s suicide, the liturgy of the holidays felt like a vat of salt was being poured into my still open wounds.

We recite Unetanah Tokef….
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
Who by sword and who by wild beast,
Who by famine and who by thirst,
Who by earthquake and who by plague,
Who by strangulation and who by stoning,
Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.
But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree.

As a still very new, and grieving survivor of suicide loss I cannot possibly utter these words. Though I do not believe in an all powerful God, an intervening God, the words, the liturgy of these Holy Days reverberates with that kind of Divine Image. Recited around me, carried to the heavens in the voice of a congregation, I feel angry at God, betrayed, let down. I am unable to pray. I simply stand and cry, and at other times I leave the sanctuary overcome by grief.

Five months ago my father took his own life. There are no words to describe the pain his death, his choice, has left behind. On a cerebral level, I can recognize that it was his illness, the depression & anxiety that had taken hold of his soul, that led him to his death. On an emotional level I feel abandoned, angry, traumatized, profoundly sad and grappling with the many complex layers of this loss.

I want to know if God watched him do it.
I want to know if God, or the angels cried out.
When Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, God’s Angels cried out to stop him.
Where were they when my father died alone, in the basement of the home I grew up in?
I want to know why my father felt unworthy of inscription in
The Book of Life.
His story was not done.
Surely this could not be God’s

U’fros Aleinu Sukkat Sh’omecha
Spread Over Us Your Shelter of Peace
How many times have I prayed these words?
Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habracha l’avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with refuah sh’leimah
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit

And how many times did I pray these words, thinking of my father’s struggles and wanting so desperately to help him once again find peace.

And now, the holiest of days in our Jewish calendar. A time of reflection, atonement, renewal. A time to meet God with openness, with honesty, with confession and with grace. And I can’t.

We are in this complex dance right now God and I. As I lash out in anger and bewilderment, I beg for peace and comfort. Like picking the flowers off of the petal.

I need you
I need you not
I forgive you
I forgive you not
I pray to you
I pray to you not
I turn to you
I turn to you not

It would have been easier not to go. It was offered to me. Friends, family, even my beloved husband offered me the out. If it is too hard, if it hurts, if you are suffering, do not come to services this year. It’s okay. God understands. That is what I was told. So much love and concern surrounding me. So many wanting to hold me up. So many wanting to minimize the pain I’m enduring. It would be okay this year to do “Jewish lite.”

But I wanted to be with my family.
I wanted to support my husband on his first High Holy Days here in Colorado.
It made sense, right?
But it wasn’t really what drew me to go.
At least not in full.

I couldn’t name it, this other pull. I then I read an article that a friend had shared with me. In it there was a poem by Aaron Zeitlin.

Praise me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Curse me, says God, and I will know that you love me.
Praise me or curse me
And I will know that you love me.

Sing out my graces, says God,
Raise your fist against me and revile, says God.
Sing out graces or revile,
Reviling is also a kind of praise,
says God.

But if you sit fenced off in your apathy,
says God,
If you sit entrenched in: “I don’t give a hang,” says God,
If you look at the stars and yawn,
If you see suffering and don’t cry out,
If you don’t praise and you don’t revile,
Then I created you in vain, says God.

And there it was.
I went to sevices on Rosh Hashanah and on the evening of Yom Kippur to show God that I was still in this relationship. I showed up to offer God the truest and most authentic prayer I had, my tears; and in that regard I prayed without end. I showed up to deliver this message.

I am angry at you God.
Perhaps it is unfair, misguided anger, but I need a place to put it.
My father’s end is unjust, unacceptable.
It feels like an abomination.
And I want to know where you were.
Where was your compassion?
Where was his peace?
And I want to know why my own prayers for comfort do so little to ease my own pain?
I want to know so many things. I want to yell and I want to cry. I want to speak and I want to remain silent. I want to turn away from you and I want to turn towards you.
But I’m here, in your house.
I’ve lived through estrangement before.
I will not do it again.

In “Vayishiah” Jacob wrestles with the angel. His name is changed to Israel
which means
to struggle with God.

I could not do it all. I went to services on erev Rosh Hashanah and on the first day. I could not bear to stand through the liturgy, or run from it another day. And I went to services on Kol Nidre, but I could not return for the remainder of the holiday. But the point of it all is this…

I showed up.
Though my knees threatened to buckle and my feet carried me to and from the sanctuary and back more times than I can count; I showed up.
In my silence and through my tears, tissue after tissue; I reviled and admonished God.
In my pain and in my anguish, in the sobs that felt as if they came from my soul; I forced myself to turn towards God.
I struggled.

To stay home for it all would have been easier.
To turn my back would have been easier.

But God and I have a long journey ahead of us.
And we’ve shared a long journey past.
And I don’t know much right now.
The answers I seek escape me.
But I do know this…

I showed up.
Because I want God in my life.
Faith is my anchor, even when I feel lost at sea.
God’s love is steadfast
Even when I find it hard to receive.
I love God.
And in my anger & my pain;
deep in my soul
I know God loves me.
And I know God loved my father.
My father is with God now.
And my most fervent prayer
is that he is at peace.


First, Mommy asked us all to think of two lines that would tell something about your life
Words that might encapsulate who you were even beyond the beloved husband, father and grandfather
I pictured you sitting outside, your head turned toward the sun
Oh how you loved to bask in the warmth
And then I pictured you surrounded by your family, your greatest blessings and the source of your deepest joy
And through my tears
The words came to me

Then, it was the image of your footstone
A drawing of what it would look like
It was such a stark and abrasive sense of finality
There was your name
The date of your birth
And the date of your death
A beginning and an ending
And the words that I had come up with
Well now, they were actually there
On a stone
A stone for your grave
It took my breath away
And I dropped to my knees
Tears just kept flowing

And now The High Holy Days
First, Rosh Hashanah
Then, Yom Kippur
The Yizkor Book of Remembrance
Your name will be in it
The form sits in front of me
I fill in the information
I need to share something more about you
I want to share something more about you
But it makes me weep that once again
I cannot share it in life
This is a book of Remembrance
For those who have died
And you Daddy
You are in it

It all just makes me weep…
Because I want you here
I want one more day Daddy
I want you to fight

These remembrances are the tangible reminders
That you are not coming back
That you are gone
That you could not fight even one day more

That you chose death
Or death chose you
I don’t know
I don’t care
I hate it all
It all just makes me weep Daddy
It all just makes me weep

4 months ago today. I stood in Whole Foods on a Monday morning. My cell rang. It was my brother. He never calls me from work. Maybe he was calling to congratulate me on selling the house. But, he was crying. “Daddy’s dead. He killed himself.” I made him repeat it. It couldn’t be. He kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” How horrible it must have been to make that call. I asked, “When? How?” I know I asked over and over again, praying for a different answer. No, this could not be true. I fell to the floor…primal screams, crying… strangers gathered. One prayed for me, others called my husband, I remember these kind strangers discussing how they would get me home. I shouldn’t, I couldn’t drive… still others went in search of a friend who I said might be working at Whole Foods. She came and got me, she took me to the back and waited with me until Fred could come….four months ago today, a normal Monday morning became a nightmare. And, of the many, many challenges our family has faced, surviving my father’s suicide and working through the horrible, painful and complex layers of grief…has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do….

How can it be?
A lifetime of precious memories
Reels of film
And yet, I can only see the end
Your end
It haunts me.

How can it be?
The complex & complicated road we traveled
The one that led us to a better, deeper & stronger path
A true knowing & understanding of one another as people
has come to an abrupt end
There is nowhere left to go with you.

How can it be?
I will never hear your voice
You will never speak my name
We will never laugh together, cry together
Simply just “be” together.

How can it be?
You, who basked in the sunshine
Could no longer see the light
You who reveled in the beauty of the ocean
Could no longer see the promise on the horizon
You who loved to gaze at the lighthouse
Could no longer see it’s symbolism…
Storms pass
Calmer waters come
Safety is within reach

How can it be?
That you…
Felt so alone on this earth
So isolated in your pain
So much like a burden to those who loved you most
To believe that we might simply be better off without you

How can it be?
Never again will we share
A kiss
A hug
A card
A celebration
A conversation
A hard day
A sad day
A memory
An “I love you.”

How can it be?
Why must it be?
It didn’t have to be.
It didn’t have to be.

But it is.
It is.
It is.

How can it be?
I do not know.
I do not know.
But it is.

I went into therapy a few weeks ago. The Survivors of Suicide support groups simply were not enough to help me navigate through the complex & painful layers of grief. The grief of suicide loss is so very hard. There is guilt, anger, shock, sadness, a sense of abandonment, question after question and then there is the profound sense of loss, unnecessary, senseless loss.

I’ve struggled so much with the looking back. I’ve referred to it before. We the survivors are left performing an ongoing psychological autopsy of our loved one. Missed signs, a hindsight understanding of depression, anxiety and the myriad of other illnesses of the brain. We ask ourselves what we missed.
What if…
If only…
Did I…
Should I have…
Why didn’t…

I feel so many days that I could have done more. I should have done more. Perhaps if I’d called my dad that afternoon. My mother told me he always felt better after he spoke to me. Would that have changed the outcome? Did I not listen hard enough? Did I not validate enough, encourage enough? If I knew more, could I have done more? Why didn’t he tell me the true extent of his suffering?

And then there are the more painful questions.
Why did he leave me?
Wasn’t I enough?
Didn’t he love me enough to keep fighting?

And the list goes on…

My therapist asked me, in the midst of my tears and my pain, to think about what my father would say to me. If he could speak to me (oh how I miss hearing his voice & knowing he is here), what would he tell me?

And so, I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes, tears still flowing, and I thought…. And here is what I think he would say to me.

My dearest Deborah. I am so very sorry for the pain that I have caused you. It breaks my heart to see the burden you now carry. I love you, I will always love you. This was not your fault. Do you hear me? This was not your fault. You allowed me to feel heard, safe, validated and loved each & every time that we spoke. You saw me just as I was, in the midst of so much emotional turmoil and pain, and you listened. You told me I was enough. That was such a gift that you gave to me in my last months on this earth. This was not your fault. My dear daughter, be gentle with yourself. Please stop beating yourself up. Be compassionate to yourself. I was in so much pain. I just wanted to end my own suffering. And now, I’ve left that suffering in the hands of those I love most. I am so sorry.
You were enough.
You loved me enough.
You were a light in my life. In my own darkness, I lost sight of that for one irreversible moment.
I hope one day you can think of me and smile.
I hope you can forgive me.
It’s okay if you get mad at me. I understand.
My daughter, my child, I didn’t tell you the full truth of my suffering. I wanted to spare you. But I haven’t spared you have I? I was so wrong to hide that from you.
I was so wrong to leave the way I did.
This was not your fault.
This was not your fault.
I am with you. I am still loving you. I am still here. I will always be with you.
I’m sorry my dearest daughter. I am so, so sorry.
This was not your fault.
I love you.

Maybe that is what he would say to me, if he could. One day I hope I can come to believe all of that. I am trying. I sure do wish he could tell me in person. I wish I could hear him, feel him, sense his presence. Perhaps the layers of grief are simply impenetrable at the moment. I hope the time will come….

P.S. I think he’d say he’s proud of me. Proud of me for telling his story. Proud of me for speaking our truth. And proud of me for using my pain to try and help others. Yes, I think he’d be proud. I hope he is. Though I can only imagine such pride, is tempered by the tears he cries. Because grief has become my teacher. And it is my father who brought grief and all of it’s painful lessons, into my life.

mom and dad wedding


Fifty years of marriage

It is referred to as The Golden Anniversary.

But my father isn’t here…

Still, his death & his absence does not, cannot tarnish what he and my mother built together.

They were best friends. Children really, when they first met. They grew up together. They started a family. They built a home. They built a life.

It wasn’t always easy. And no, it wasn’t perfect. Nothing worth having is. They always taught me that marriage is work. It takes two imperfect people striving to build a foundation of trust, acceptance, respect and unconditional love. And when that foundation is strong, the hardest of times become somehow more bearable and the best of times, so much more meaningful. But the foundation must always be tended to. That is the work. The labor of love.

I always knew my parents loved one another. They said it. They showed it. They were demonstrative in their affection towards one another. They held hands and they kissed. Yes, they kissed in front of their children…

Ani l’dodi v’dodi li I am my beloved & my beloved is mine.

Fifty years of marriage. It was supposed to be celebrated as a couple. The toast to be shared wishing for “many, many more anniversaries to come.” It was supposed to be a day of great joy. But alas, life did not honor what was supposed to be.

Gold should shimmer, it should sparkle, it should glisten. It reflects light and life.

Without my father it does not shine so brightly. It is muted by his loss, by his absence.

But still, we must honor this milestone. We honor it for my mother, and in loving memory of my father.

Fifty years is quite an achievement.

My mother & father on the day my mom turned Sweet 16.

My mother & father on the day my mom turned Sweet 16.

Together these two kids who met in Brooklyn 55 years ago-built something so very beautiful.

June 13, 1965 was the beginning of their journey as husband & wife. And from that day, and that commitment, came a family. Two children and six grandchildren. That is the legacy of their love story.

So, we celebrate that. We celebrate the family that love built and the love story that started it all. And we mourn the husband, father & grandfather who is not with us on this day! But never will we allow his death to diminish all that he and my mother shared, all that they were to each other, all that they had been through, all that they had experienced in good times & bad, & all of the love that filled their days.

This is for you…

“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere
I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet)I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings

greene party1652

A Sabbath Prayer for my father, who took his own life on April 20, 2015. And who is missed so very much…


Adonai were you with him as he drew his last breath?
His final exhale, releasing him of the pain & torment.
His soul cleansed and once again at peace.

It was not his time. But still I pray that you welcomed him into your care, to a place where he would hurt no more.

Tonight we kindle the lights of Shabbat.
He was lost in the darkness God. I pray that each day he is bathed in light. It is how I want to picture him, basking in the warmth of the sun. His favorite way to sit & pass the time.

Tonight we say the Kiddush and sip the wine.
He could not see or taste the sweetness that surrounded him God. It was in the kiss of his beloved bride. It was in the hearts of his children. It was in the love of his grandchildren. I pray that he knew that, that he still does. And I pray that the bitter taste of tears no longer lingers upon his lips. Rather, may there be a way he can still savor all that he was to us. It is we who cry now…

Tonight we bless the bread. The braided strands so symbolic of family. Each of us so deeply & intimately intertwined. And yet, there is a strand missing God.

Adonai my God, the Sabbath wish is for Shalom, for wholeness & peace. May he know it now God. He had not known it for so long. May you help us to know it once again. It seems so far from reach. We piece together the fragments each day, but the missing parts remain. How do we mend Adonai? Help us, guide us. Nurture in us the strength we need to rebuild. Tend to our spirits & our hearts so that they may know and truly feel joy once more.

And please God, place a kiss upon his cheek for us, tell him that we miss him, hold him in your everlasting embrace and once in a while, let him come to visit us. A whisper in the wind, a face in our dreams, or a rainbow in the sky.

Adonai, on this Sabbath eve. As the tears still fall. This is my most fervent prayer.

Dear Dad,

In my support group they say that it is important not to live with guilt, but rather to frame those feelings in regret. Guilt, they say, will become all consuming, regret is difficult, but in time it is easier to learn to live with. Makes sense…

So, I wanted to tell you a few things I regret.

I regret that we lost six precious years together due to our estrangement. I know we came out of it stronger, we did more than simply survive it. But I do wish it hadn’t taken us so long to find healing, wholeness & renewal. How many more precious memories might we have had?

I regret that I did not recognize the full depth of your suffering.

I regret any time I encouraged you to “fake it until you feel it.” How exhausting it must have been to try…

I regret that when you told me you truly felt depressed, that I didn’t ask you if you ever thought of harming yourself. It didn’t occur to me. You never said it.

I regret that in all of our talks, and there were so many, that I wasn’t able to give you more, to do more, to see more. I tried. I tried to listen, to be present, to validate all that you felt and to encourage you to get help, to keep talking, to continue treading water, rather than sink.

I regret that I did not get to say goodbye one final time.

I regret that I did not get to tell you I love you one final time.

I regret that I didn’t truly understand the signs. People ask often if there were any. The answer is yes, but without a full understanding of the symptoms of depression, without knowing that you were only sharing a part of your pain & suffering, without you ever uttering the words that would set off the alarms–I didn’t see them.

I’m sorry Dad. I regret that I couldn’t do more. I loved you as best as I could. I regret that it wasn’t enough to help save you.

And most of all–I regret that you and I will not have more time together.


deb and dad baby