Tools for Elul: Valerie Bacharach


It is never too late, even with the dead. My mother is gone almost two years. Her fears fed anger and bitterness. Two strokes ravaged her brain, stole her words and reason. Her heart struggled to keep its beat, her kidneys betrayed her, and eventually, she was too weak to stand. And I, her daughter, took her freedom, her choices, even, at the end, her bed. It was too big, too high, for the aides to lift her into, safely. When she died, calling for her mother, I was left emptied, a deserted child too exhausted to cry.

Yet now, with the movement of time, my memories have returned, moments of sharing meals, talking of books, watching the old movies she loved and knew by heart. We spoke every day, made plans for my visits to Columbus, where she used to live. We would go to her favorite neighborhood restaurant where the owner knew her name, saved her a "special" table. We went shopping, I met her friends.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I often feel her with me now, the weight of her arm around my shoulder, the scent of her skin, the feel of her cheek against mine. I know she has forgiven me, that her love has found mine in the narrow place where this world meets the world to come.

And there, I discover my mother's still-warm soul, hold it against the heat of my heart, sway and dance to the rhythm of memory.

-Valerie Bacharach, Congregant

Rodef Shalom