Hesped for Chaya Marsha Rivka bat Yocheved...

My son-in-law's mother, Chaya Marsha Rivka bat Yocheved (Marlene), died at home, Sunday, October 26th (27 Tishrei, 5769) almost three years to the day after her cancer was first diagnosed.

We received this devastating news (you know it's coming; you are never ready for it...) just when I was getting ready to go to a Torah Dedication Ceremony at our Chabad. My husband was already there, so when I got there, I had to break the news to him. We both began to cry, right in the middle of the celebration.

Marlene was a special, special person. She touched the lives of many people. She was very involved in her community, gave friends and family abundant love, helped others, gave much tzedakah and did many acts of chesed (she even helped me when I was feeling low).

She was a wonderfully strong wife, mother, and Grandma to her (and my) grandchildren, who in turn loved her very much. The grandkids, from the oldest(-being seven and a half and with Down Syndrome), to the middlest (she is five), to the youngest (she will be three in Dec.), I think understood...as much as they can-what has happened; they were together with their Grandma in healthy times, and in sick times; they spent Rosh Hashana with her, together with the whole family and all their uncles (one who came from as far away as Amsterdam), while she was dying the way she wanted to--at home, on her own terms.

She died from a position of strength: last June, 2007 she made the decision to come to Israel with her son (I think he was very instrumental in this decision) to our younger son's wedding. What a wonderful decision it was! She was able to participate in our simcha as well as see and stay with relatives she hadn't seen in years. I have wonderful photos of her at that wedding with my son-in-law, as memories. . .
When her body was unable to handle chemotherapy, she made the decision to stop undergoing treatments, choosing quality of life over the little quantity it might have given her (not significant at all, since her cancer had metastasized and spread to her liver).

She traveled during this time with her husband to see her son and his family in Amsterdam, to visit with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the country.
When she wasn't traveling she continued to work at the company with her husband. When I had heard that she had stopped working, I knew the end was near. Marlene had never stopped working--and doing, and participating, and helping. She and her husband also had been honored recently at an Aish Dinner as great Chesed doers and pillars of the community. The honor could not have gone to a more deserving couple.

My husband and I tried not to be sad, so as not to detract from the mitzvah and simcha of completing the writing of a new Torah Scroll dedicated to the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, so instead we bought another letter in the new Sefer Torah, in Marlene's memory. It turned out to be the letter Hey (ה ), a letter symbolizing G-d, because it is a letter in G-d's name, and is used in abbreviating the Ineffable Name when writing; it was in the last pasuk (verse) of the Torah...

I truly believe that Judaism is right: the soul lives on after the body dies. May the neshama of Chaya Marsha Rivka bat Yocheved have an aliyah. Baruch Dayan ha-Emet. . .

There were over 600 people at her levayah on Monday. . .

Today, I received this by email from my daughter who had just lost her beloved mother-in-law. It epitomizes how she lived and how she died. And I lost a friend.
To Those I Love
& Those Who Love Me;
When I am gone, release me, let me go...
I have so many things to see and do
You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many
I gave you my love, you can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness.

I thank you for the love you each have shown.
But now it's time I traveled
on alone.
So grieve a while for me if grieve you must.
Then let your grief be comforted
by trust.
It's only for a while that we must part.
So bless the memories
within your heart.
I won't be far away, for life goes on...
So if you need me, call me and I will
Though you can't see me or touch me, I'll be near.
All of my love around
you soft and clear...
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile, and
Welcome Home."

Hesped - eulogy
Tzedakah - charity
Chesed - acts of lovingkindness
Mitzvah - a commandment/good deed
Simcha - a happy occasion or event, such as a bar-mitzvah or wedding, or Torah Dedication...
Sefer Torah - Torah Scroll
- soul
Aliyah - elevation (may her sould be elevated to higher and higher levels of Heaven)
Baruch Dayan ha-Emet - an expression said when one hears of the death of someone good, who died before his time or through terrible circumstances. It means, "blessed is the Judge of Truth."

Levayah - funeral; literally means 'accompanying,' as in accompanying the deceased to the grave.

(Toodles composed a song about Marlene and sings it, accompanying herself on the guitar. You can see it on YouTube.)


Eitan said…
The poem she wrote is very, very touching. I didn't know her but having read what you wrote about her, I felt like I had (known her). I'm sorry for your loss-our loss rather.
SuperRaizy said…
She sounds like a incredible person. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.
muse said…
HaMakom y'nachem...

No doubt she was a very special woman.
Lady-Light said…
eitan,superraizy, muse - Thank you all for your kind empathy and condolences. I can't believe she is gone.

With Marlene's passing on Sunday, and Toodles leaving for Israel today, it has been a difficult week for me. Your understanding and sympathy go a long way.

(-And thank you also to all my friends who sent their condolences by email but didn't comment. You have no idea how much they mean to me.)
Karen said…
My deepest sympathies to the family. The poem that Marlene wrote is beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes.
Aunt Laya said…
Another tribute to Marlene is busting up the "mother in law myth" that people don't get along with them. I grew up never understanding all the jokes and love when an example of shared love comes to light like this.

I'm so sorry for the loss of this lovely soul and how blessed we all are that she walked on this earth with us for a time.

rickismom said…
Avery touching post. The poem from Marlene is tremendous!!!!!!!
As regards your question as to how I am working on my weight, I must confess to be less doing than wanting. But I do hope to get there....If I start working on it seriously, I will probably post on it...;.
Hamakom yenachem... Thank you so much for this beautiful beautiful post, especially (but not limited to) your daughter's extraordinary poem.
Lady-Light said…
I am overwhelmed by your comments and empathy: karen, aunt laya, rickismom, and ye'he sh'mey raba, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
(I don't know if Marlene actually wrote that poem. It symbolized her attitude and life. I will ask my daughter...)

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