Memory Book for Shoshana Weintraub

The following are the memories those of us have of Shoshana/Shoshi/Shosha :

Entries 190-199

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Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: March 2 2008 10:46 PM

I've been thinking a great deal about the month before Shoshana's bat mitzvah. Aaron will become a bar mitzvah on March 22-this month. His studies with Dr. Robbins and Rabbi Baker have mirrored Shoshana's in many ways. We review Hebrew and the prayers he's learned on much the same schedule as I did with Shoshi. We sit on the sofa and I have to nudge him, as I did with her, in very similar (and annoying) ways. We discuss his Torah portion and how it's relevant to his life (or not..). Because he's my second child to go through this process, I'm more relaxed about all the preparations. However, because of our particular family circumstances, the process has been a much more painful and difficult. I've tried to elicit the same joy and enthusiasm for Aaron's coming of age as I did with Shoshana, but I'm not always sure I've succeeded.

Aaron, Shoshana and I baked for the Friday night service that she participated in. We prepared way too much food, but we also had fun baking and preparing for that evening. I remember how grown up she looked, sitting and standing beside Cantor Sherwin as she led the prayers.

During that service (and I was warned about this beforehand), one of Kol Halev's congregants was being honored by the City of Austin for his work during the Katrina refugee crisis; he was to receive recognition for his chaplainry work on behalf of Kol Halev. Mayor Wynn came the service, spoke and presented to the congregant a certificate of appreciation from the city. This part of the Friday night service obviously had nothing to do with Shoshana's bat mitzvah, but I joked with her that for the rest of her life, she could brag that the mayor of Austin came to her bat mitzvah.

I remember that we all felt less nervous at the end of that evening before the big day Saturday. I also remember that when we got home and I was putting things away, I watched while Shoshana twirled around in the living room. The skirt that she wore for the Friday service was an A-line skirt and perfect for twirling.

There are so many snapshot memories that I have of the actual Shabbat morning service. I remember her voice shaking a little with nervousness when she first began Shaharit. My heart went out to her in hopes of giving her strength to lead. She did relax and led Shaharit (the morning service), the Torah and Haftorah readings beautifully. There were glitches, but overall she did very well. Her voice was a little soft and she rushed at times, but that's not unusual for B'nei mitzvah kids. She read her d'var (analysis of her Torah portion) well, if a little quickly, and looked suitably embarrassed and uncomfortable when Steven, Rabbi Baker and Cantor Sherwin spoke to her about her accomplishment. I remember the look on her face (pure joy and relief) when the part of the service came where everyone threw candy at her to wish her a sweet life. She picked up some of the pieces and tossed them back. I remember that a good portion of her friends joined her at the bimah when she led the final prayer, Adon Olam, to the tune of the Beatles "Yellow Submarine." I have a vivid picture in my mind of Shoshana standing in the middle of a long line of teenage girls-all dressed up and grinning. I noticed that Shoshi was one of the shortest and curviest-she tended to hang out with tall, slender, coltish girls.

I don't think that I even saw her at the Kiddush luncheon. After most people left, Shoshana, Aaron, Audrey and two friends from Corpus Christi played ga-ga at the JCCA's court. I remember that Shoshana took her shoes and panty hose off and hiked her skirt up so that she could jump around and dodge the ball. That morning started off fairly chilly, but by the time the kids were in the ga-ga pit, it was a perfect temperature. The kids had a blast and it was such a great way to end that part of the day. Steven and I were so relieved that the morning was successful and DONE.

We were so happy then.

Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: March 2 2008 10:46 PM

We had fun as we looked for nice clothes for her to wear at her bat mitzvah services. Considering that neither of us liked to shop, that was a real feat. We would go out, usually on Sunday afternoons, to shop. I can only go for about an hour of clothes shopping before I start going nuts, so these jaunts were quick adventures. I wanted her to wear a suit and she did try on a couple and of course, looked too cute, but she wasn't really a suit-sorta-girl, so she nixed each one. We made a number of trips to Steinmart (it's close by and I don't like malls.) and had a blast looking at the glitzy clothes that that store tends to carry. We did need to be a little careful with our giggling about some of the clothes items because, presumably, there are women who purchase and wear (in public!) some of those items. Actually, the skirt and blouse that she wore for the Friday night service we bought at Steinmart. The skirt was turquoise blue cotton with black appliqu‚ designs that were a little Native American looking. The blouse was a simple turquoise blue tailored shirt. The colors looked great on her and she did wear the skirt to school often after her bat mitzvah.

She wanted to go to Goodwill to find something else. She viewed Goodwill as a retro-hip, cool place to shop. I told her that I didn't mind buying from Goodwill if we found something appropriate, but under NO circumstances was she to reveal to A Certain Relative that Shoshana Weintraub shops at Goodwill. I told Shoshana that A Certain Relative's head would explode if he/she knew that Shoshana bought something there. We didn't find anything at Goodwill and my nice, upper-middle class daughter bought her Shabbat morning, sedate, cream and black skirt and sweater ensemble at Talbot's. What a proud Jewish mother I was.

Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: March 2 2008 10:46 PM

When Shoshana was in 6th grade there was a stretch of about 7 or 8 school days during the 2nd six weeks grading period when there were a slew of major projects due. There was the dreaded time project (both the math and science components), a World Cultures project, a major essay in Language Arts and something else that I can't remember. Actually, the time project is a really cool interdisciplinary math and science/engineering project that all 6th graders at Kealing have to participate in. Anyway, the stress of getting the assignments done, on time, and of an "A" quality finally got to her. I don't remember what the trigger was (aside from hormones.), but at one point she went ballistic on me. She had a complete meltdown like she had never had. During the heat of the moment she called me a "conservative b#$%&!!!" Ouch! It wasn't that she called me a b#$%& that bothered me, it was that she called me "conservative." Geez that hurt :-) !

She did calm down and apologized that evening (mostly, because her father made her), but we were very tender with each other for a few days. Once we were on better footing with one another the incident served to improve our relationship. My feelings were hurt (and not because of the term "conservative"), but I also knew that she was testing me, as all healthy and spirited young people should. It wasn't pleasant (for either of us), but I think our relationship was stronger and of a more mature understanding. She fell apart, said something mean and hurtful, apologized for it and repented her behavior by better actions toward me. For my part, I didn't lose my cool and I understood that she was stretching the boundaries of appropriate behavior because that's what teens do. I didn't get angry and I forgave her with an open heart, yet still modeled for her a higher standard regarding how to treat others when one is angry.

"It's not personal" became Steven's and my mantra in dealing with a teenager.

Visitor: Daniel Graves
Time: April 7 2008 10:46 PM

I wish the best of luck to the Weintraub/Huckabee family in their future. Aaron is a really good kid and his bar mitzvah was quite a hit, and I wish him the best of luck in the future (along with the rest of the family of course).

Visitor: Bella
Time: April 26 2008 10:46 AM

Message: I've been talking to Martin, a lot, recently. We realize that the twenty-eighth is nearing, and that it has been nearly two years, now. This reminds me of how little can seem to happen in two years, and how so much can happen in one day.

Fondest memories, dreams, and hopes to everyone so lucky to have had their lives shone on by Shoshana's brilliance.
My fondest regards to Aaron and Mister and Miss Weintraub.


Visitor: Ariel "Pelly" Godwin
Time: April 28 2008 6:58 AM

t's the day before the two-year anniversary of Shoshana's death, and normally I'd have been thinking about my feelings (very meta, I know!) for several weeks leading up to this event.

The truth is, however, that my thoughts have only drifted briefly across Shoshana, this event, before I realized the significance of today. I suppose it's not that unusual. After all, so many things have happened this year: it seems like a lifetime ago that I typed up some words in remembrance of the friend and daughter we all lost.

The milestones may be small or large: a new haircut, a new school. They can be irrelevant - today I had my first taste of Korean hip hop, and loved it - or significant - I earned over $130 from my first job at the library. I exchanged Valentine's this year. I threw a flashlight through my wall. I mastered the Bleach theme song on Dance Dance Revolution. My computer crashed, my teachers failed me, my dad sent me comic books. I fell out of love. I fell into like. I was, in short, very confused, but that's just normal.

And all that time, was I thinking of Shoshana every day, as I'm sure her family must a little?

The answer is no.

Nor did I ignore Shoshana completely The news article announcing her death still hangs on the bulletin board in my study, and I do think about her - if less than I'd like to admit.

I've seen the effect this girl has had on people near to me and people distant as the stars. I know the impact her life made on others and on myself. I know this as much as everyone knows this - so is it right that only today do I find myself dwelling on Shoshana in more depth than I have for the past 365 days?

My life is crowded with exotic new experiences, but today I will set them aside. I'm considering this anniversary, considering what I've gone through to get here, and wondering at Shoshana's death once more. And yes, I'll probably be occupied with my Biology homework today as well. But for what it's worth, Shoshana, and above all else today, I'm thinking of you.

Visitor: Martin
Time: April 28 2008 4:39 PM

It has been two years now.

I noticed, thinking today, that I have forgotten little bits of her: her laugh, her eyes, and so on. I have to wonder what will happen when I can't remember her much at all. Hopefully that will never come to pass.

I remember meeting her in Mr. Valdez's Texas History class. While trying to fix a computer, I asked her for advice. She responded that when it came to fixing electronics, her usual approach involved large power tools or hammers through the screen. This quip seems to really peexemplify her. She was bright, funny, and could always make me laugh.

I worry about the pieces of memory fading away, but cherish the pieces that stay even more. Nobody has ever been like Shoshana before, and nobody will be like her again. Unique to a degree that most never reach.

So many loved her, and for good reason. The one hundred and ninety comments left here show that. She touched the lives of countless people.

Don't forget.

Visitor: Sasha Heinen
Time: April 28 2008 6:51 AM

It's hard to believe it's been that long.

It's hard to believe it was so recent.

I'm thinking of you, Shoshi.

Visitor: Carole Wood
Time: May 8 2008 2:24 PM

Sometimes one meeting is all that's needed to impress you for a lifetime. I met Shoshana only once, even though I had been hearing all about her for months. She was a close and special friend to my son, Dominic, who attended Kealing Middle School with her, and even though I would feel I was trespassing on my son's private feelings to describe them through my eyes, I feel safe in saying that Shoshana was very, very special to him. He cared about her deeply and he talked freely about her: how smart she was, how friendly, how kind, how sensitive to other people's feelings, and above all (very important to him), what a world-class sense of humor she possessed. According to Dominic, Shoshana was not just stand-up comic-funny, she really and truly "got" things. She was not only gifted and intelligent, she possessed the ability to see through the obvious surfaces of people and events---what we call "reality"---to the hidden meanings just beneath. She understood irony; she really and truly knew that things are not always just what they seem, and she was not frightened by that knowledge. Where so many people her age would shy away differences or problems in their peers, her response was compassion and acceptance.

How do I know all this about her, having only met her once, and briefly at that? I know because I trust my son, and I not only trust what he told me about Shoshana, I saw his friendship with her not only influence, but actually change him and the way he viewed his reality. Shoshana helped him trust his responses to the world. That's a tremendous thing and it endeared her to me long before I had the chance to meet her.

The one time my path actually crossed hers was at her Bat Mitzvah in January of 2006. She and her mother, Tina, were standing in the hallway at the time, meeting floods of people who were attending the ceremony, and I doubt Shoshana focused on my face for longer than about two seconds, as excited and surrounded by friends as she was. But I will never forget my first and forever impression of her: she was made of light. There was so much energy and sheer force radiating from her; she was all motion and intensity and life. I was pretty much knocked off my feet by her, and I remember thinking, Wow, my son is really smart. He has really great taste. I'm so glad this girl is his friend.

Later that same day, I met her parents, Tina and Steve, and I was given a glimpse of how Shoshana came to be who she was. She had her mother's gentleness and serious courtesy and perceptive irony, and her father's howling sense of hilarity and amazing intelligence. You could see the same forces at work in her younger brother, Aaron, whom she alternately bossed around and loved deeply. To this day, I feel privileged to have known this family, even so briefly. Like Shoshana, they were and are special, special people. The world is a better place for containing them.

It's difficult to write the rest of this because I can't help crying almost uncontrollably when I remember, but I have thought about it every day for two years . I would have remembered Shoshana's Bat Mitzvah anyway for its place in my son's life and because of the many wonderful people I met that day, but now I know what I did not know then---that I would always remember it in every detail because four months later, she would be gone. I find my extreme reaction to that loss difficult to explain to other friends. Of course she was Dominic's friend, they will say, but you didn't really know her. But that's just the point: I feel that I did. I have encountered a great deal of evil one way and another in my life; I teach preschool and you run into some fearful and terrible things in my work---abuse, neglect, unspeakable callousness and indifference, even death---things you cannot prevent and can never forgive or forget. You also learn to recognize and love goodness when you come face to face with it. I recognized it when I met Shoshana. She was a real human being, not a fictional angel; she had a temper and I saw her behave impatiently and not very kindly to her younger brother that very evening because he annoyed her about God knows what. But our flaws are what make us real and they make goodness all the more powerful when it rises to the fore. I will say it again: I remember Shoshana Weintraub as a radiant force, like sunshine hitting you full in the face without eyeshades.

I know that if I had had the opportunity to know her longer, I would have loved her. As it is, I loved her for my son's sake and for the goodness and beauty of soul I saw in her. But I didn't have that chance. Instead, just four months after our meeting, I had to find a way to tell my son that she had died. I live that moment over and over. This is the hardest thing to say. If someone had brought the news to me, if I lost my son, I would not survive. I have never known what to say to Shoshana's parents because as a parent myself, I know that there is nothing to say. Their strength confounds and shames me. I know that when I grieve for them, I am grieving that such pain can even exist in this world. It doesn't make me question God so much as it makes me furious and it truly terrifies me. Two years later, I am still yellng at Him about this. Shoshana's death took something so precious from the world and it left a hole in my heart because I sat with my son while he grieved and because I am a parent who knows that there is no answer to the question.

It was Dominic who finally, after months of pain, told me, "Mom, all we can do is remember. That's all we can do to make it mean something. I'll never forget Shoshana, but I won't stop living. She would have been so ticked off at me if I decided to do anything else."

I believe him. So even now, two years later, when he has moved on into high school, made other friends, we still visit Shoshana's grave. We still leave stones on the marker that her parents had inscribed "Walk Trot Canter." And I still cry. I am so glad that I met her. I am so thankful that I knew her, if only for one day. And I will never, never forget that beautiful, wonderful, wonderful girl.

Visitor: Molly McGregor
Time: June 29 2008 11:03 PM

I had a very out-of-the-ordinary dream the other night about Shoshana. I can't recall ever having a dream about her before, which is partially why I found it so strange to have one all of the sudden. In my dream, I was talking to her because she was very sad and upset. I kept telling her that if she ever needed to talk to me I'd be here for her. She was explaining to me how difficult it was to move on because instead of her dying, her father died. But she kept saying "I need to move on, I know he's in a better place." I also asked if she still had the pegasus poster I had given her many years ago; I don't remember her answer, though.

I'm not sure why I decided to write this dream down on her guestbook. I suppose if it means anything, then it is that she hopes everyone is accepting what happened and is moving on, knowing she is O.K. And I'm sure she is.

(neighbor behind the backyard)

[Note: The pegesus poster still hangs on her wall beside her bookcase]

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