Today was a dreary, rainy mess of a day- not the best setting for the start of a bereavement group but I was undaunted, sure that this would be a perfect group for me.
With my trusty GPS I navigated back to Paramus from Rockland on familiar highways to the Kraft Center, a satellite of Valley Hospital. I grabbed a coveted parking spot and headed into the building to find the meeting room. I was sure this would be a good thing, sure of it.
I walked in with a woman who would be joining me- older, shaky, tears flowing. We spoke a bit but I kept to myself. We were firs to arrive. I turned on the light and grabbed a seat at the conference table. Cold room, cold around this table. Kim, the facilitator joined us with a welcome as she opened and spread small boxes of tissues and miniature toy horses around the table that would probably make sense as we began.
By 11:15 the table was filled with mourners- 7 women, 3 men. Kim introduced herself and the toy horses- the horse on the table– seemed to be the elephant in the room. She shared the story of the horse on the table that she was paraphrasing from a textbook she brought with her. The “critic” in me wondered why she didn’t just tell us the story and then have us make sense of it- maybe even write into the workshop- hey, that’s me.
Slowly we went around the table sharing something about ourselves and the story of our loss. We went second and spoke for just a few minutes- everyone else either couldn’t speak at first or couldn’t stop speaking about their loss. Every other person shared stories of long, drawn out suffering- years of cancer treatments, years of sadness and all I wanted to do was run away.
When the hour+ ended, I was up and out first and I couldn’t look back. I’m sure this group will be helpful to many who sat around that conference table. Thank God I was smart enough to get myself into therapy ASAP and I’ve been making progress one-on-one, week- after- week with Sandie.
You were a gift to me in life and in death Tuvia. You didn’t suffer, I didn’t suffer and I can’t continue in this group. I am moving back into my life and I’m taking you with me. If I continue with this group I feel like I will regress.
Back at the house, hesitant as I unlocked to door and collected the mail, I breathed you in me and smiled, so happy to be back in our familiar world. I walked around the house, looking around for more mementoes of our life together. I was on a mission to find your menorah and this time I would be more patient as I retraced my steps, gently moving around bags and objects in drawers and cabinet shelves in the kitchen and dinning room..
I sat down at the kitchen table with a black cherry yogurt and looked around the room, at the cabinets I have never opened. The two just over the refrigerator were high, close to the ceiling. I couldn’t reach them and why would you even consider using them, but hey, it was worth a shot. I grabbed a chair and reached for the one on the right- empty but then the left- BINGO! treasure hunt over. Your sweet, ceramic menorah, the one you brought with you from Israel 50 years ago sat waiting for me to find.
I promise you T, I will cherish your treasure on Chanukah this year and every year to come. In fact it will travel with me to Hoboken when I celebrate with the family. A new tradition!
Sitting with Tara over salmon and risotto, tomatoes and wine, sharing our day and my find I felt balanced and grateful T, so grateful.