Friday, October 11, 2019

Making Memories

grief, loss, loss of a parent, matzo ball soup, traditions, Judaism, love, family, father, generations


I wrote this piece several years ago to be published somewhere else, but today, today I need to share these same words. I'm lacking anything more - I'm missing my father as today it is six years to the day that he left us, and it hurts as if it were mere moments ago. 

Last year I shared why October hurts so much.
Six years ago I shared the immediate pain, the instant grief, the heartache. And then I talked about this very experience, the one I share below.

Matzo Ball Soup

My father has been gone for _________. 
Two years and five months when I first wrote this. 
And it is six years now, oh, how time flies and stands still all at once.
Two years. Five months.
Six years. 
Six. 
Whole. 
Years.
Gone.
Unexpectedly taken from us too soon.
I have so many memories.
So many moments.
So much to hold in my head and my heart.
And yet, one of the most important things my father ever taught me was how to make matzo ball soup.
From scratch.
The chicken soup.
The matzo balls.
An effort unknown to me before that day.
An effort I have repeated several times since.
On most days I would pick up the phone.
Ask for a refresher.
How much water do I need to use?
How do I get the balls to float?
Why are they falling apart?
But now – when I get myself started – there’s no one to call.
I have to do it on my own.
I remember his words.
His voice.
I can feel him directing me.
And sometimes I cry.
And I laugh.
I say his words out loud.
I hear his voice in my own.
I recognize the efforts he put in – year after year – holiday after holiday – at work and at home.
Making matzo ball soup from scratch is not simple.
You’re on your feet on and off for hours.
You’re walking back and forth to the stove more times than you can count.
It’s a long and tedious process.
But I need to do it.
I need to repeat it more often.
Because it brings me closer to my father.
It reminds me of how much he did.
For me. For my brother. For my mom. For our family.
Imagine making this day after day for masses of people?
Standing on your feet, ignoring any pain.
My mere efforts once every few months in tribute. In memory.
They pale in comparison.
Nothing will ever taste quite the same as my father’s matzo ball soup.
But I’m working my hardest to come as close as I possibly can.
I know he’s proud.
I know he knows.
And when the time comes – I’ll teach my daughter the recipe.
I’ll pass it down so it feeds generation after generation.
So his words will live on in the flavors.
Because although I don’t come close enough – some days – some batches – sometimes – I lift that spoon up to my lips and inhale the scent of it. I take a tiny taste and my goodness.
It’s like he’s right there beside me.
It’s like he never left us at all.
Matzo ball soup.
It seems so random.
That it should hold the most important of memories for me all this time.
And yet, it does. It always will.

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