Visitor: Ariel Godwin
Time: November 28, 2007 10:36 PM
The cranes are hung. At last, Kealing's library will show our testament to Shoshana's life, the cranes that number each day she lived.
It is the eve of the memorial. I feel nervous, cathartic. Shoshana's funeral, for me, was an exercise in grief. I hope this memorial will be an exercise in remembrance.
Grief is baffling. It strikes when it shouldn't, it lasts too long, it hurts too deeply, and nobody feels it the same way.
I don't know if my grief will ever stay the same. Sometimes it's grief over Shoshana's young parting. The words, "Just thirteen, just thirteen" echo in my head. Shoshana was just thirteen when she died. I am fourteen. I will be fifteen in April. What will happen when Shoshana's friends all pass thirteen? When her brother outlives her? And sometimes it's regret over the world's loss. The world will miss out on Shoshana's brilliant influence, her sunny viewpoint and everything she could bring to those around her. And it always, always hurts when I think of her closest friends, everyone she touched, who will forever miss her as a friend.
The memorial, though. The cranes. This guestbook of memories. The moments of silence when I can look around and almost see people thinking, "I wish Shoshana was here to see this."
They bring us closer together.
Every time I read Tina's memories of Shoshana, tears come to my eyes. I remember Shoshana myself, her playful teasing, her love of horses, comics, and soccer, her quiet absorption in her book while riding the bus home.
Our grief may change. Our memories may change as well. But the thing to remember is though we have our private Shoshana, our own personal memories (playing around in Algebra - trying to teach me badminton - quoting V For Vendetta) of her, Shoshana is part of all of us.
Seeing how people remember Shoshana is like seeing her in front of me again.
It's beautiful. It does her justice like my words never could.
I am always grieving, Shoshana, and I will always love you.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: November 29, 2007 9:17 PM
Today, the cranes in the Kealing library were dedicated in Shoshana's memory. They are beautiful; 4866 cranes, one for every day of her life. I saw the cranes a few weeks ago when I was at Kealing for Aaron. I peaked into the library; I was nervous and apprehensive, although I'm not sure why. I suppose it's because I know the cranes are there because I no longer have a daughter and that's an odd feeling, although one that I'm growing accustomed to.
The making and hanging of these cranes is a remarkable story. The Kealing 7th graders made these cranes in the first three school days after Shoshana died. They apparently worked in the algebra teacher's room; my understanding is that they made cranes at school (and didn't do much else) during those days. They used every color, pattern and size of paper. There are tiny ones and fairly large ones. Some kids wrote notes on the paper before they folded. One girl tweaked an origami horse and came up with a design of a Pegasus horse and now each string of cranes has a Pegasus horse at its end (or is it the beginning?). Laura gave us the prototype of the Pegasus horse when she and her family came to one of the evening shiva minyan services during the week after Shoshana died. I recall that she told me how many cranes had been made and what the plans were. I hung the little white paper Pegasus up on our fireplace mantle and there it remains. I now have Shoshana's framed band picture and another framed photo of Shoshana and Aaron hanging beside it.
The Kealing cranes are hung from the ceiling in strands that are about 3-4 feet long. I don't know how many strands there are, but they're hung over a reading area. Each strand is strung fairly tightly with cranes and they are hung roughly, though not always, by color and size. I believe that the cranes were "lacquered" so that they will last for a long time without disintegrating.
I walked into the library this morning and looked for familiar faces; Audrey hugged me first, then Laura. I recognized most of the girls, but they have changed so much; some of the girls I never really knew, I just heard stories about them from Shoshana and maybe I had met them once before she died. Some of them had known Shoshi from early elementary school. They are all so grown up and beautiful. As I looked at their mature, lovely faces and their teenage girl clothes, my heart ached-would Shoshana have cool, funky glasses or wear a black miniskirt and sweater? Would her hair be short or long? Would she have a nose piercing or a blue streak in her hair? Would she be gearing up for semester finals? If my daughter was alive today, all these kids could have slept in for their late start day for this six weeks period.
The cranes are beautiful. The kids talked about how the cranes represent the beauty of Shoshana's life. They spoke about how they've learned to appreciate life and how she taught them to laugh, love, steal lunch food from each other, as well as other life lessons. They also fear that she will be forgotten; I fear that also. Rationally, I know that these kids and many others, as well as teachers, family friends and neighbors will remember Shoshana. I still can't quite get my mind and spirit around the fact that this bright, funny, talented, kid, with so much to offer the world, is gone. I also worry that people will focus on her death, and not her life.
I will remember the thirteen years that she gave me.
I thank the Kealing staff for allowing these kids to process grief in a positive and concrete way.
I also want to extend special thanks and gratitude to Laura and Sasha (and their parents!) for their hard work and organization for this project. We send our affection to them, Audrey, Ariel, Lydia and all of Shoshana's wonderful friends.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: December 5, 2007 8:17 PM
When the kids were little, we started a tradition which we maintain and that is having a pizza and movie night on Saturday nights. I don't remember how old Shoshana and Aaron were when we began watching the movies on a regular basis. We have never watched much TV. I haven't a clue about most shows that are on and that's been true for many years; I'm proud to say that I've never seen any reality TV.
When we first started watching the movies, it was strictly Disney stuff. Shoshana's first movie was "Dumbo." I think I might have been pregnant with Aaron, which would make Shoshana two years old. I remember that she started crying during the scene where Dumbo's mother is in elephant jail and he visits her. They entwine trunks and there is a wonderfully sappy song that is sung (something like, "Baby, my baby..."). Shoshana cried when she saw that scene; she watched the movie a few times, crying every time. Of course, I was thrilled and proud that my two-year-old was SO emotionally advanced and empathetic! In the first month after Aaron was born we watched "The Lion King" MANY times. I swore I wouldn't let TV baby-sit, but .....I was tired. A month or so after he was born, I remember sitting in the overstuffed chair with the ottoman. I was holding Aaron and Shoshana was lying across my lap and legs and the two of us (Aaron was asleep) were watching the movie.
As the kids grew older, we expanded our movie watching to other things besides Disney animation. Both kids really like Hayao Miyazaki films. He's a Japanese director/animator and the first movie of his that we watched was "Kiki's Delivery Service." Shoshana and I named a neighborhood cat after a cat character in the "Kiki" film. Shoshana especially liked "Princess Mononoke." I watched it with her, but it was a bit wonky for me. Both kids liked "Howl's Moving Castle" and "Spirited Away."
We watched all sorts of kid-friendly films, some better than others. There were many favorites like "Princess Diaries," "The Princess Bride," "Peter Pan" (both the old animated and the Broadway live action), and all the Pixar flicks.
For a while, the kids watched the Star Trek movies, the original series and some of the "Next Generation" series. Shoshana had a big ole crush on "Data." We enjoyed making fun of the actors and plots of the original series.
We turned the kids on to the Marx Brothers when Shoshi was in 6th grade and Aaron in 4th grade. They loved them. That October, Shoshana dressed up as Harpo and Aaron as Groucho for Halloween. Aaron wanted to be Harpo (his favorite), but I insisted that he couldn't keep his mouth shut for long enough and that he would make a much better Groucho. He did-we taught him some lines and he was great. Shoshana wore a curly wig, a trench coat, and strange clothes; she carried a horn. She didn't speak the whole night, but she did beep the horn. She was a terrific Harpo.
Both kids really enjoyed the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy; Shoshana read the series before she saw the movies; I can't say the same about myself....
Shoshana always liked when Steven and Aaron had Boy Scout weekends. We referred to those as our girl weekends. She didn't have to share which movie she wanted to watch (always a problem, that sharing business...) and we enjoyed the extra quiet. We would watch things that I felt were a little too old for Aaron. When she was in 6th grade, I let her watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and in 7th grade I let her watch "Life of Brian." We giggled so much that I felt like I was back in middle school. I had so much fun with her those nights.
She watched "Edward Scissorhands" and afterwards when she was in the shower, I could hear her sobbing. If you haven't seen it... it's a tearjerker. I waited in the hallway for her to come out of the bathroom and hugged her. She was embarrassed that she was crying and said, "It's just so sad!"
During her last weekend alive, she and I were alone because the guys were on a campout. We watched "Gandhi," but we had narrowed our choice to between "Gandhi" and "Seabiscuit." I really wanted her to see "Gandhi," but in retrospect, I wish that I would have pushed "Seabiscuit" - it had horses AND Tobey Maguire AND a happy ending. She would have loved it. We had several interruptions during the movie. She got two phone calls that night and we both cut our fingers (mine on a windowsill and hers on a piece of glass that she use for a Language Art project), so we had to take bandaging breaks. We didn't finish the film until about midnight.
We still have pizza and movie nights. It's not the same. I enjoy being with my family, but as with everything, I feel her absence. Aaron has gotten to see much that she never will. He likes the Hitchcock films, the 1930s and `40s screwball comedies ("Philadelphia Story" and "Adam's Rib," etc.), we even let him watch "The Godfather." He actually has really good taste in movies. (Thank you Mr. Webster and the "Film as Literature" elective at Kealing for creating our 7th grade film critic.)
I'm glad we still do the movie nights, but I miss her input, her grumpiness when she doesn't get her way on the choice of movie and her passion in watching an enjoyable film.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: December 5, 2007 8:17 PM
On the Monday before Shoshana died, I made macaroni and cheese. I make the sauce from scratch and then put the elbow noodles in and bake until the mac and cheese is slightly brown around the edges. Everyone likes my mac and cheese. However, it does take several pots and pans to make and I usually wash them by hand as the mac and cheese is baking.
The kids did their homework at the kitchen table. I remember that as I was hand washing the pots, there were some tiny bubbles that floated up into the air. Shoshana walked over to the sink area and began to bat at the bubbles. She reminded me of a kitten at play. She and Aaron always liked to play with the bubbles in the sink.
The next night, I made cheese enchiladas. I have a really good, easy recipe for a rojas sauce and that's the kind I usually made. Shoshana had come home from school late (she had to stay to do a lab that she was going to miss while on the trip to Chicago). She dozed off in a chair, but woke up about twenty minutes later. I was concerned that she wasn't feeling well, but she insisted that she was only a little tired. I remember that she sort of followed me around as I did things around the house. I recall asking her, "Don't you have homework to do... or something??"
Shoshana, Aaron and I sat down for dinner once the enchiladas were done. I had taken maybe two bites when I looked over at Shoshi and both of enchiladas were gone. I said to her, "Well, you can't feel too bad, you snarfed that down!" I laughed at her and we continued our dinner conversation. A few minutes later, she placed both arms on the table and said with a big sigh, "I am SO tired. I think I'm going to quickly finish my homework, take a shower and go to bed early." I said OK and that's what she did.
The most unusual thing about that night was her tiredness. She was in bed and asleep by 8:30 and that was weird. I kept waking up that night because I assumed that if she was coming down with something, she would probably develop a fever during the night and would need my help; I thought she would wake up. She slept well and woke up saying that she felt fine, that she had just been really tired the night before. She ate a good breakfast and I sent her to school thinking that everything was OK.
I haven't made enchiladas since that Tuesday night.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: December 16, 2007 9:24 PM
I walk into Shoshana's room and look at her things. She kept everything that was ever given to her. Well, probably not, but looking at her room, it seems so. I know that someday I will have to clean out her room, but I'm not close to being ready to do that.
Shoshana was given an "American Girl" doll by her grandparents when she was 5 or 6 years old. These dolls represent ethnic groups in the U.S.; each doll in fact has a story and all sorts of clothes and paraphernalia (sold separately of course) that go with each one. Shoshana's doll was ordered to "look" like Shoshana; she has light brown hair and green eyes. The "American Girl" dolls are beautiful and well made.
Shoshana never really played with girl or baby dolls that much. She had all sorts of horse dolls with barns, saddles, halters, etc., that she loved when she was little. Some of these toys are still in her room.
Shoshana did play with her "American Girl" some though. She named her Esther; Esther hailed from Lubbock, Texas. (I didn't get it either... Lubbock...?). Esther was Jewish and she rode horses. Esther owned an English riding habit, a dance leotard/skirt with dance shoes, a denim skirt with a vest, some blue jeans and a few other basics like shirts and sweaters, in her wardrobe. Esther even had hightops-perhaps that's where Shoshi first developed her love of hightops. I don't believe that Esther's hightops were Converse brand.
Esther had gorgeous hair. Shoshana learned to braid by practicing on Esther's hair. I tried to learn to French braid with Esther's hair, but I was absolutely hopeless at it. I promised Shoshi that I would learn so that I could braid her hair, but I just never could get the hang of French braiding.
I know that Esther sat on Shoshi's bed for several years and then was relegated to the closet. I also remember that I gave Shoshana some plastic containers to keep some of Esther's clothes in. The other clothes hang on little hangers from a closet shelf.
I don't know when Shoshana stopped playing with Esther. I remember noticing that Esther's clothes would change from time to time, but I think that it's been a long time since the doll was given much attention. I do remember that Shoshana cleared out a space in her closet for a little reading nook. For a time, she had a reading lamp in the closet and her closet was arranged so that she could curl up with a large pillow and read. Esther was with her in the closet as a companion.
Recently, I decided that I should donate Esther and all her stuff to a local children's shelter. I know that Shoshana would want some child who has little to have such a wonderful gift. Before I called the organization, I decided to remind myself what was in the Esther accoutrements. . I found Esther sitting in the front, left corner of Shoshana's closet. She is wearing her riding habit and even has the helmet on. There was a little blanket that Shoshana made in 3rd or 4th grade over her lap. I picked the doll up and looked closely at her. Her hair was braided in two ponytail braids and then sloppily tied together at the nape of the neck with two coated rubber bands. I have no idea when Shoshana did Esther's hair and set Esther so that she was comfortable in the closet.
I realized that I just couldn't give the doll away. On some long ago day or night, Shoshana had fixed Esther's hair, dressed her, placed her just so in the closet and put a blanket around her. Esther has part of Shoshana with her.
I placed Esther back in the exact position that I found her. I looked at the other clothes and shoes that were stored in the plastic containers and understood that these items were exactly where Shoshi put them. I didn't change anything.
I know that Shoshi would be irritated with me that I didn't give the doll to some deserving child. I know that she would want someone else to enjoy Esther. I know that giving the doll away is the correct thing to do. I know that someday I will move from this house and I will have to dispose of many of Shoshana's belongings.
It's also very clear to me that I'm not as far along this treacherous road as I thought I was.
Time: December 30, 2007 7:33 AM
I read that wonderful article Tina wrote about Shoshi for Tales of The City-she was a most amazing human being.
Thank you for sharing.
Visitor: Wayne and Darlene Reitmeyer
Time: December 30, 2007 11:11 AM
We met Shoshana once at her grandparents 50th anniversary celebration, Zelda and Russel Weintraub.
Our lasting impression was...a beautiful vivacious child soon to become a young woman who would continue to jusify the love and pride of family and friends.
We enjoyed reading her Mother's beautiful memories of Shoshana's life, sharing with us Shoshana's passion and love for nature and animals. She pictured for us a complete, loving family, and how much she is missed--leaving a "hurt" which now is comforted by memories.
This is a story understod by all who have suffered the loss of a child. Thank you for your very loving story.
Wayne and Darlene Reitmeyer
Visitor: BALVINA UGARTE Visitor: Chuck Thomas
Time: December 30, 2007 9:28 PM
BALVINA UGARTE ( DAIRY QUEEN ON BURNET RD )
I'm so sorry for what hapend to Shoshana.Because I new her for aveary long time.I have memoryise about her when she went to Dairy Queen.With her Mom and Brother,veary offten.I remeber her favorit Blizzard was the (Resses pinot butter).I remember her preshes eyes and her sweet smile.She will always be in my prayers.And her Family
FROM BALVINA UGARTE.
YO BALVINA SIENTO MUCHO LA PERDIDA IRREPARABLE DE ''SHOSHANA'' LLA QUE TUBE LA FORTUNA DE CONOCERLA POR VARIOS ANOS LLAQUE ERA UNA DE MIS CLIENTAS FABORITAS EN EL RESTAURANTE (DAIRY QUEEN ) DONDE CON FRECUENCIA HACISTIA ELLA Y SU MAMA Y HERMANO . A TOMAR HELADO TODAVIA RECUERDO CUAL ERA SU FAVORITO (REESES ) ERA UNA DEESAS NINAS QUE SE TE QUEDABA GRABADA SU LINDO RROSTRO CON UNOS HOJOS PRECIOSOS Y UNA SONRISA POR IGUAL Y UNAS PRESIOSAS PEQUITAS QUE LA HACIAN VERSE MAS BONITAS NUNCA TE BOY A OLVIDAR SIEMPRE ESTARAS EN MIS PENSAMIENTOS Y EN MIS ORACIONES AL IGUAL QUE TU FAMILIA . QUE DIOS LOS VENDIGA Y LES MANDE LA RESIGNACION PARA SEGIR ADELANTE . ATENTAMENTE BALVINA UGARTE .
Time: December 30, 2007 11:37 PM
We're thinking about you on your 15th birthday Shoshi. We love and miss you very much.
Chuck, Pei, and Natasha Thomas
Main page                 Top                 Family statement
Visitor: Chuck Thomas