Every blade of grass has its own song

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. With my mom’s passing on April 18th and the funeral and the shiva, not to mention the several years of ups and downs with the cancer treatment, I am completely and utterly exhausted. It’s 11:19pm on a Sunday and the quiet has set in. After a day, indeed a weekend, of seeing great friends, I felt boosted and even happy at times. It is only when the quiet sets in that my anxiety spikes and the sadness, more than anything else, comes to fruition.

I find myself doing what I know how to do to process my feelings, which is to write. When I lived in Israel, I started this blog as a way to keep in touch with my friends back home. And now I continue it as a way to keep in touch with my mom.

Mourning has been an uneven process, as I’ve been told to expect by clergy and family and friends. It comes in waves. I was lucky enough for my mom to make me a video and several audio clips when she was aware of her impending passing but alive enough to record something for me. In the clips that I’ve heard so far, she envisions a beautiful future for me. And encourages me to pursue it in her honor. I bawl every time I watch her. What an incredible gift that she gave me. And what an incredible robbery that she won’t be able to be there for my life milestones going forward.

At my mom’s funeral, I requested that the cantor learn to play one of my favorite Jewish songs, “Shirat Ha’asavim” – the song of the grasses. In this adaptation of the mystical Rabbi Nachman of Breslav’s words, Naomi Shemer sings that “every blade of grass has its own song”. When I lived in Israel, when I was out of touch with my family in part due to my own mental health issues, I would yearn for a way to reconnect. And I would sing this song in the fields of the holiest of lands. It sustained me and got me to where I am today. Just like my mom.

A few months ago, when we knew my mom was going to pass away, my mom and I met with one of our family’s rabbis (we’re lucky to have several!). I wanted to give my mom the chance to talk about how she envisioned being honored. It was a difficult and at times surreal conversation to have, but one that was important. It came to me that when the rabbi asked what if anything I would like in the service, that I wanted to include this beautiful song. It brought things full circle. Even when I was out of touch with family, I could feel a spiritual presence looking over me. A presence I still feel with me at times even though my mom has departed this earth. I believe my mom’s presence continues to guard over me and look after my well-being at a time when I sorely need it.

And for those needs she can’t take care of, I’m lucky enough to have an entire cadre of amazing friends who have stepped up to grieve with me, to cook for me, to care for me. Just like my mom would’ve wanted.

So mom, I can’t help but cry when I think of you. But know that it just means I love and loved you very much. And you always taught me it’s OK for boys to cry.

Not a day goes by without me thinking of you and trying to live my life in a way that would make you proud.

Thank you for always having my back, even when sometimes I didn’t know I needed it.

Sometimes the burden feels too heavy to carry. I will do everything I can to move forward, but won’t be afraid to ask for help when I need it. I hope you and David, my stepdad, are OK. And while it is probably going to be a long time before I join you all, I can’t wait to see you again. In the meantime, I’ll try to surround myself with people who help me “be my best me” as you would say.

It’ll be OK. It’s OK to not be OK. As you would say. I miss you. The only way forward is through – one step at a time. Love you 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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