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My First Mother’s Day without My Mother

My First Mother’s Day without My Mother

Can one ever really lose a mother?


Nine months ago I lost my beloved mother.

But as I write these words, I wonder: Can one ever really lose a mother?

Of course not. But I lost the sound of my mother’s voice when I’d walk into the room and hear her joy as she cried out my name. I lost the touch of her hands as she would hold onto mine. I lost the one person in the world whom I would call day or night, no matter the hour. She would be happy to lift the burden off of my shoulders. “Don’t worry, sheyfelah, everything will be all right. I am davening for you.” In my heart I knew that my mother was taking out her book of Psalms and washing the fragile pages with her tears. For me. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of feeling cared for and loved.

And now I am left grappling with the void. There are times that I pick up the phone out of habit and just hear the dial tone ringing in my ear. I forget that I cannot make that call. I seek her wisdom but must instead rely on my mother’s words from days gone by. I struggle to remember it all. I try fiercely to hold onto our inside jokes, our looks of understanding. I close my eyes and travel to my yesterdays when I had a mother in this world.

Each Friday night the empty chair is yet another stark reminder of all that I have lost. I wish that I could bend my head and feel my mother’s hands upon me as she whispers her Shabbos blessings once again. But the night passes and in my mother’s place is the sound of silence.

I recall that last Shabbos when my mother was feeling too ill to come to my home. My two-year-old grandson asked, “Where’s Bubba?”

“Bubba doesn’t feel so good.” I replied. “I don’t think Bubba is coming tonight.”

His eyes began to fill. “I want Bubba!”

I saw him run to the window and lift up the curtain. His lips pouting, he had a determined look on his face. He turned to me while holding onto the fabric’s edge. “Maybe Bubba is coming. I’m gonna watch by this window.”

We waited and waited but it was not to be.

I wish.

I wish we would have known that our time together was going to be cut short. I wish I would have asked more questions. Learned more. Listened more.

On one of those last awful days in the hospital when we knew that the moment to say goodbye was drawing near, we each took a few moments to speak privately.

My mother’s eyes were opened. I knew that though my mother could not talk she knew exactly what was happening. There was a light of understanding that shone forth.

I leaned in and took my mother’s hand.

I thanked my dear mother for giving me life. I tried to express my gratitude for my mother’s courage, vision, resilience, and her keeping the torch of faith burning inside of us. The many sacrifices for our people that she ingrained within our hearts. And the countless sacrifices she made for us, her children. The path that she so valiantly forged for us to follow in. I thanked her for giving us the gift of memory, mission, and legacy.

If you are blessed with having a mom in this world, take a moment and share your gratitude.

My mother’s footsteps can never be erased by time. Her love has been imbued into the very molecules of this universe. We breathe in her love every single day. It is a mother’s love that cannot be duplicated; a singular love that nourishes one’s soul.

My mother’s eyes glistened. How does one say goodbye? I took a tissue and dabbed her cheeks as two tears rolled down her face. At that moment I felt I was touching holiness; burning tears of fire straight from the soul.

If you are blessed with having a mom in this world, take a moment and share your gratitude. Words from the heart can be difficult to voice, but you will always cherish this moment. It is a giant leap of love. It’s worth taking it.

And if your mother has returned her soul to the heavens above, know, as I do, that your mother is your mother forever. She is watching over you, praying for you and caring for you. Take comfort in knowing that you do not stand alone.

With eternal gratitude to my dear mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungries, may her memory be for a blessing,


May 8, 2017

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Visitor Comments: 24

(21) Shirlee Rosenthal, May 19, 2017 4:26 PM


Thank you for your words. I lost my beloved Mother 2 years ago, and like you I miss her touch, her kisses and mostly I miss holding her hand and singing with her. Thank you for your column. Shirlee Rosenthal

(20) Alegre Uziel, May 15, 2017 12:43 PM

Dear Mrs Slovie J.Wollf. Thanks for the beautiful article. Rebbetzin E. Jungreis, May her memory be blessed. Amen. Was an example for me. I admired her and each week read her beautiful articles.I remember her with love and respect.R.I.P. May HASHEM bless you Amen.

(19) Jewish Mom, May 15, 2017 7:03 AM

About your "soul poll"

I voted that I'm not sure (a minority!). Is a soul really looking down at the lives of loved ones forever? I'm under the impression that after passing, a soul is more aware of dear ones left behind but after time, much less so. At a funeral, we ask the departed to be a meilitz yosher (put in a good word in Heaven) for the family and for our nation, and when we visit a grave, we likewise ask the same - not praying to him/her but rather asking him/her to intervene on our behalf. If they were constantly aware and intervening, there would be no reason to arouse them to do this! The soul, in its high spiritual realm, has unclouded perception of why things are the way including ways we are tested and what work WE need to do in order to perfect ourselves, as opposed to their intervening to relieve us of our tests. At special times e.g. at a chuppah (marriage ceremony), the souls of ancestors are there, maybe because this new home being set up impacts on them. They're on hand to greet and help loved one through the passage of death. But on a day to day basis, I'm not sure they're our "guardian angels" looking out for us. We CAN remain meaningfully connected with them by doing mitzvos (Torah commandments/good deeds) for the elevation of their souls. I've heard of quite a few first-person amazing accounts of people who've received "thank-you messages" from departed loved ones after having done challenging positive spiritual acts on his/her behalf - and our Jewish sources have relate various accounts as well. The departed showed awareness, gratitude and at times, subsequently intervened on behalf of the person who grew spiritually to benefit their soul. This works two ways - it connects us with our beloved departed ones and connects them with us. Slovie, by continuing your mother's lifework inspiring Jews and by living a spiritually uplifted life as she and your father taught and modeled for you, you're bringing them continuous pleasure and are remaining connected.

(18) Bracha Goetz, May 14, 2017 8:39 PM

Thank you!

(17) Susan B., May 14, 2017 1:58 PM

Thank you

Thank you for sharing these beautiful words. I was fortunate to have heard your beloved mother speak several years ago when she came to Providence. Her book the Committed Marriage resides on my night table. My beloved mother's Levaya was on Rosh Chodesh Iyar. This is my first Mother's Day without my mother too. I am truly blessed because my mom gave to all with her kind heart for 100 years.

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