Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Till Death Do Us Part
Monday, 28 February 2011 22:07

You know that feeling in the early morning when you suddenly awaken for no reason?

It's the dead of winter in Santa Fe. I wake up at a time when darkness fills the windows and the warmth under the covers brings comfort, my pen moving across the page. The only other sound is the humidifier and in the room with me memories of the parents of three friends who have died so recently.

I go back to those words," till death do us part."  I try to place the exact time I truly understood what they meant, when  my mother, Esther died November 8, 2002, at the age of ninety-four, six weeks after my Bat Mitzvah. I was then sixty-two.

And yet, she is still here. Gone and not gone. I no longer truly know her laugh, but hear it; my dad's corny jokes. I hear them coming through my voice. My small dogs, Aggie, who died in 1999 and Georgia in 2000. The first dog, Abra. The first dog I mourned and thought of Alice, my biological mother because her loss, although so many years before that was still too painful, too close to the bone. It took so much work to get to the point of going into that mausoleum at Beth Olam Cemetery in Hollywood with a bottle of Perrier and a bouquet of flowers to stand in front of Alice's crypt and read the words to her from my poem, "For My Mother Who Died Without Warning." My heart sister, Pat stood there to bear witness before walking back into the sunlight. I asked Alice to release me and I thought I released her but the work was not over.

The memoir is out in the world. So many of you have read it, written reviews and letters, have shared your stories with me and I am grateful. You have been there to bear witness to our lives and their deaths: my mothers, my father, grandparents. In fact, we are all bearing witness for each other and, I don't know about you, but I wait to be released from that lifelong burden and realize, it continues on and on. Until death, mine, do us part.

I say to you, and in some way , the same way, I say to my three friends who have just come to experience this so recently, let us all rest in peace. May their parents' names be for a blessing.

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