This June was the 10th year anniversary of my daughter, Chava’s death. As I was approaching the date I was a bundle of knots inside. In past years we have acknowledged this time of year in a private way. Being alone and sharing our memories with each other has been our way of being with our grief. Some friends and family would let us know they were thinking of us, and Chava, and that felt comforting that they still remembered and that we weren’t totally alone.
Time passes in such a bizarre way. Sometimes it feels like Chava’s illness and death happened but a few short months ago. The memories are so fresh and raw, but at other times, it feels so long since I held her in my arms and told her how much I loved her. I miss her touch, her laughter, and the vision of her enlivening the space around her, and us. This void makes the length of time feel painfully real. Oh, how I still ache inside. The anniversary brings all these feeling to the surface .
So what do I do with these swirling emotions? I little voice inside of me kept saying I need/want to do something this year to mark this milestone. For weeks I found refuge in my garden as I pondered what I wanted to do. By digging deep into the soil, unearthing rocks and sifting the rich dirt in my hands, ideas began to germinate. I built a free standing iron lattice wall and a stone trough around it to connect sections of the garden together.I envisioned the varied hues of purple, blues, and reds of morning glories climbing the black tralise contrasting the hard metal as the radiating blossoms swayed in the gentle breeze. I wanted our friends and family to gather here in a this place that has given me such comfort and solace over the years. Chava’s words from her journal which she wrote while she was sick :” Ah, the flowers…take your time to look, to see, to smell, to feel the beauty of this amazing world”. Her words led me to the corner stone for the gathering. Together we would plant flowers in her memory as we celebrated her life, shared memories, and reflected on how having had her in our lives has enriched us.
Over the next several weeks I sent out an open invitation to family and friends to circulate throughout the communities where Chava had touched people . I continued to dig finding comfort in knowing that through my digging I had found the creative nugget for which I had been searching . I felt at peace knowing that whatever happened on the day of the gathering was what was meant to happen because it was coming from my heart and not because of a prescribed script on what one” should “do. Together we would gather as family and friends from different communities and together create a safe place to share and celebrate all that Chava had given us.
Now, months later reflecting on the gathering, I can truly say it was all I had hoped it would be. On a crystal clear blue sunny day , Chava’s garden was filled with many of those who loved her. We shared our stories, memories, reflections through laughter, tears,and song. We released butterflies into the garden, and silently watched as they flitted amongst the flowers, creating an invisible thread that connected all of us and lifted our spirit into the universe. Chava had truly left her mark on each of our lives. By coming together on this 10th year we rekindled her spark in each of us. Her memory lives on in each of us and her spirit is present in all the small wonders we encounter every day. She was ,and will always be, a gift to cherish.