Our last Passover together

Tonight was my last Passover with my mom. She is in hospice and her cancer is very far advanced in her body.

A number of people came by to visit my mom, including our synagogue’s rabbi who dropped off some Seder plate ingredients. He told me he forgot to provide a plate- I told him not to worry. I joked with my mom that we’re “substance over style” people. We care much more about what’s on the plate than what the plate looks like. That we care much more about what a person is made of than how put together they appear to be. Our house has always been “come as you are”.

Back in the day when my mom was physically able to, she would host the most amazing seders. All my friends would be welcome, no matter what their religion was. We typically would have at least all three Abrahamic religions represented each year.

The food was amazing. I LOVE Passover. It’s my mom’s and my favorite holiday. And it’s my religious Hebrew name – Pesach. We would sing, we’d do an abbreviated version of the Haggadah. We’d laugh. We’d have a ball.

Even despite having to eat unleavened bread for a week (and yes, getting tired of it!), we’d never get tired of the holiday spirit.

This year, my mom and I celebrated Passover while she sat in a hospital bed. We didn’t have our usual accoutrements – we didn’t use a seder plate. But we did laugh. We sang. We cried – boy did we cry.

I asked my mom if it was okay if I wrote about her being in hospice. And she said: “there’s nothing to hide”. With her typical bravery, she is facing this absolutely awful situation with incredible bravery and honesty. I decided to make public a previous blog I wrote about her. And I decided to write this one.

Because I want people to know how much I love my mom. How much she has made my life a better one. How sad I’ll be when she’s no longer here with me physically. How many moments in the future I wish I could share with her. And can’t.

Which leads me to God. After all, tonight wasn’t a typical visit to my mom. It’s a holiday. Our favorite one. God- I have no idea if you act in the universe, if you exist, if you care what’s going on with my family. You at best work in the most mysterious of ways.

The only thing I can say is that I believe that my relationship with my mom will not end on the day she passes away from this world. Whether it’s a walk on the C&O Canal – especially our favorite Great Falls, or hearing someone tell a corny elephant joke, or when I connect to the Judaism we both love so much – I will feel my mom’s presence. And I won’t feel as lonely.

That’s the only way forward. I don’t believe in God because God is merciful or compassionate or kind. At the moment, I don’t think they’re much of any of those things. But I believe in some spiritual force because I must. Because a life without a connection to my mom is too much to bear. And I will collapse.

In the Passover haggadah, we read “mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh mikol haleylot?” “What makes this night different from all other nights?”

It’s different because it’s the last Passover I’ll spend with my mom.

Author: Matt Adler - מטע אדלר

A compassionate multilingual Jewish explorer. Author of "More Than Just Hummus: A Gay Jew Discovers Israel in Arabic": http://tiny.cc/qjfbsz & http://tiny.cc/gkfbsz. Join me on my journeys by reading my blog or following me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/matt.adler.357. May you find some beauty in your day today. :)

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