Madelene and my Mom

Disclaimer, the title of my blog is Just Me and Sometimes Bacon. And although I mostly focus on weight loss, there are some posts that are, in fact, just me. This is one of those.

Oh, the thoughts running through my heart right now. I’m following the advice of a dear friend who said to me today, “I see some blog posts here. It’s how you process.” Well, that and some Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, but I digress.

As some of my readers know as I’ve blogged before about her, I lost my mom almost 15 years ago. And in these last almost 15 years I’ve learned that the hardest thing I’ve ever done was not to lose her, but to have so many life moments without her. Sure I’ve visited her gravesite, sure I’ve had conversations with her, sure I’ve written her Mother’s Day cards and notes and even blogs. But there are life’s moments that I wanted my mom with me. And I didn’t have her.

This past week one of her dearest friends passed away. Madelene was like another mother to me.   When I was in her house she treated me like a daughter and that included loving on me and also setting me straight when I needed it. She took me dress and shoe shopping as she had boys and my mom truly hated shopping. We had holidays together. When I started a home business she invited me to her school to help me. She had my kids over for holidays. And when my mom died, she called me every month to check on me and make sure I was okay.

Both from New York and both the quintessential Jewish mothers, if a director called Universal studios and said, “Hey, send me a Jewish mother type,” these two women would show up. They loved through pure adoration, attention, guilt, and sacrifice. And because of all the years together and all the memories, and all I felt about her, I needed to be there this week.

I wanted all the honor to be about Madelene and I expected it to be hard on me emotionally. But, I wasn’t prepared for how hard. I wasn’t prepared for the memories of my mom to be as intertwined and connected. And at first I thought that’s a disservice to Madelene, but it’s not. It defines her – that she took on my family as her own and family is intertwined. That’s the way it is. So all the emotional entanglements that I was feeling about my own loss was because Madelene took such incredible care to connect.   She was a good connector, that one!

I saw many of their mutual friends, some – most – I haven’t seen since my mom’s funeral. These friends are people who taught with her, who make my mom’s food, have her picture in their homes, had our family over their houses.   We’ve celebrated joys and sorrows together. There has since been joys and sorrows that we no longer celebrate together.  Kids grow up. They have children of their own. Wives lost husbands. Friends become ill. Life happens whether I witness it or not.

That was not only my lesson, but my pride this trip. Life happens whether I witness it or not. I need to be present – and I was. I talked to as many of the people as I could. I avoided the food and embraced the connection.

The beauty of shiva (the tradition of the first week of mourning) is the sharing of the stories. We live on in whom with we’ve shared our lives. We let the soul know that they’ll always be alive so it can move on. And the sharing of stories were filled with humor and joy and a common theme of love (and shoes and maybe some food).

Madelene, you raised two amazing sons and a world full of other children with your heart. Your legacy will live on in all of us who knew you. Mom, you’re now with your friend. Catch up and show her around and give her a heavenly hug. And both of you – please… continue to watch over us.


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