Time: July 11 2008 4:45 PM
Just thinking of you, love.
Time: July 11 2008 5:35 PM
For a while, I was very upset about Aaron. I was afraid because I know that when people are adults, they react to things with unfortunate typicality. I was mad because, when he would say, "My sister passed away, when I was young," everyone would react as they always do. "Oh, I'm so sorry."
My fear is of how he would respond.
It's pretty foolish to be so worried about what someone else may or may not do, in the future, but I do it, anyway. I'm afraid of things that happen, that are so life changing, becoming so cold as statistics, on the news, and the methodical tear-jerking of cinema.
This is life.
That was life.
I love Shoshana so much, I'm afraid of losing that to what I hear on the radio.
On the other hand, the experience of such loss has taught me to better understand the terrifying prospects of war and sickness.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: July 26 2008 10:03 PM
Shoshana would be proud of me. I rode a horse in the Davis Mountains two weeks ago while on a camping/hiking trip in West Texas/ southern New Mexico. She teased me mercilessly the one time that I rode a horse with her on the beach in Port Aransas. I think she was in fourth or fifth grade. I let the horse nibble grass and I had no clue how to stop him; really, I didn't particularly mind that he was eating, as it's one of my chief pleasures, how can I deny it to a horse? She dismissed my horse-handling skills and it became a joke between us for a time.
I always ask Shoshi to come with us when we go somewhere. We vacationed in the Davis Mountains the summer after she died; we planned the trip before her death and in fact, were also going to go to Big Bend National Park, but just didn't have the energy. I remember not really wanting to go at all, but felt it was important for Aaron that we continue with our vacation plans. I remember pulling on to I-10 (which is the major highway west), and I cried while I drove. I cried all the time then. Poor Aaron, he was so embarrassed.
For this trip, Steven and I traveled to Big Bend and the Guadalupe Mountains, as well as the Davis Mountains. We took Aaron to a Boy Scout camp just outside of the Davis Mountains and the next day, we drove to Big Bend. I love that area-wild, dramatic, beautiful. The air is cool and dry (okay, okay, it is HOT in the desert!). Especially in summer, it's a nice climate (as long as you have water and a hat..). We honeymooned there 23 years ago and returned the following two years, adding to our travels, visits to the Davis and Guadalupe Mountains. We were waiting for Shoshi and Aaron to mature enough to really hike because that's how the Big Bend should be experienced, rather than just driving around. Two years ago, they were finally both old enough. It's my one serious regret as a parent of a child who died young: that we didn't travel quite as much as we should have with her. Shoshana and Aaron are both adventuresome kids.
I always take a rock from wherever I've visited to place on her grave. I've swiped rocks from friends' and neighbors' homes, school grounds, city and county parks, private business property, and yes, I've even stolen rocks from federal land (national parks). Surely, they won't prosecute me if I show them that I brought the rocks back to place on my dead daughter's grave??? It's just one rock from each site!!! Even this administration wouldn't be THAT callous, would they? Since returning from my vacation, I placed a rock on Shoshana's grave that I took from the shores of the Rio Grande River at Santa Elena Canyon-a most lovely place. The rock is beautiful: pink and white and larger than I usually choose, but I knew she would like it. I also picked up rocks from our campsites and various hikes. It's important to me to share our adventures with her. I hope some essence of her is still here and can participate with us as we move on.
During this trip I hope she saw the beautiful shrubs, trees, and flowers that were blooming all over West Texas. I hope she enjoyed the magnificent thunderstorms that we experienced in the Chisos Basin, Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns area and Balmorhea Springs. I hope she loved the incredible sight of the bats that stream out of Carlsbad Caverns in the evening and I hope she walked the cavern trails with us deep underground. I hope she was thrilled at the sight of the rare kit fox that dashed in front of us on our way to Santa Elena Canyon and the shy, nervous little fox that I glimpsed in the Davis Mountain State Park. I hope she gloried at the hundreds of miles of Mexican mountain vistas that we saw from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains, considered one of the world's most beautiful views. I've hiked those trails three times in my life and I wanted to take my kids there, as they grew older. I hope that she sat with Aaron while he ate (drank?) his malt at the old fashioned diner in Ft. Davis. Mostly though, I hope she accompanied me as I rode the big, sweet, horse and mastered my nervousness of being so high up on an animal. I didn't exactly ride with style and panache, but she doesn't have as much to tease me about this time around. She knows that I let him snack some, but also that he gave me a pleasurable, sure-footed trail ride in one of the fabulous canyons of the mountains of West Texas.
Visitor: Don Becker
Time: May 4 2006 9:50 PM
[Note - Shoshana had several Email accounts we have yet to close. Though we check them seldom. This was an Email to one of them we didn't find until recently.]
I was right there with you so many times and took so little advantage of the opportunity to come to know you.
I saw an energetic girl who, as part of a family deeply committed to Judaism, was very knowledgeable and engaged. There was an opportunity to share knowledge and energy across the various divides between us and to be enriched by that sharing, but I took the comfortable and familiar path instead of crossing those divides and I missed out on the opportunity.
I saw a maturing young woman, starting to find her path, to define herself, and sometimes unsure of who she wanted to be within our congregational community. The knowledge and energy was surely there but sometimes it was somewhat obscured by the sullenness that teens project as a defensive response to not knowing exactly who they are or what they want to be. There was an opportunity to connect with you as you tried to define yourself and your path, to see the challenges from your perspective and to share the view from mine, but I focused on the easy relationships with the adults of our group and missed out on the opportunity.
I saw you, filled with energy and intelligence, with so much to offer to the world, but I passed on the opportunity to make a real connection.
I missed when I had the opportunity-and now I miss you.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: December 26 2008 9:08 AM
Shoshana will be sixteen soon. Sweet sixteen. December 30, 1992. Bill Clinton was President-Elect Clinton and I was full of hope. Shoshana's due date was January 6, 1993, but she was one week too eager to join the rest of us. She entered the world early and left it early. Steven bought a glider rocker for us and I remember sitting and rocking Shoshana while I watched the inauguration. Shoshana was one week old and I was tired, sore, and a bit scared of this parenting shtick that I had gotten myself into. (I cried the morning Steven had to go back to work because I was afraid to be left alone with "her.") She was in my lap, not sleeping, while I watched the festivities on television and though I felt trepidation at my abilities as a parent, I also felt excited because someone I voted for won an election. Hasn't happened all that often for me.
It struck me just how meaningful this birthday is, when one day in August I was driving somewhere and recognized a car in the next lane and slightly ahead of me. The car belongs to some long time acquaintances who have a daughter just a bit older than Shoshana-the girls played together as preschoolers. I realized that this girl was driving and felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. Of course. They'll all be learning to drive and receiving their licenses in the coming year. So would've Shoshana if this were a fair existence.
She would be a sophomore at LBJ's Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) now. Maybe dating? Definitely busy. We visited LASA recently with Aaron. He'll be in high school next year and is applying for admission to LASA. I walked the halls at the showcase and couldn't help feeling sad that she never made it that far. I saw several kids and adults who were significant in her life while we were there that night.
I can only picture her as the thirteen year-old that she was at the end of her life. I cannot age her-I wish I could, as it might be a helpful exercise. The girls I see from time-to-time have changed so-they're tall, curvy, womanlier, and more mature in their demeanor. I wonder if Shoshi would've ended taller than me if she had survived to adulthood? I don't think so, somehow. Aaron is almost as tall as me now and by the end of this school year, probably will eclipse me in height.
I miss her. I miss her as her birthday approaches and we have nothing to celebrate, at least not where she is concerned. We remember her laugh, her kindness, her grumpiness, but still, her death is a wound that refuses to heal. Life constantly bumps the wound and it opens easily to bleed. I look at her photographs and smile. But I also ache at the waste; I ache at the dreams unfulfilled, hopes undone, and plans unfinished. If I could trade places, I would in a heartbeat-her heartbeat. But then, I've been saying that since about 11:30am on Friday, April 28, 2006. I tried to make a deal, to change events, to alter time, but to no avail.
No One would listen.
I wonder if she is remembered. Does anyone think of her anymore or has she become "that girl who died in seventh grade, what was her name?" Is she missed by anyone besides us, or is life so busy and full that "missing" is just not part of it anymore?
I remember as Shoshana's due date approached and after I delivered her and Aaron, feeling a tremendous sense of responsibility to raise children who would contribute good to the world-as compassionate and thoughtful beings and as Jews. I spent the next thirteen years carefully teaching and modeling good behavior and integrity, joy and contentment, and empathy and love. Those were the thirteen years most meaningful and fulfilling for me. I pray the Universe remembers Shoshana and who she was and allows Aaron to continue on his wonderful, quirky path.
I feel more hope than I have in a long time. We have a new President-Elect. Barack Obama. He and we have some serious problems and some are not completely fixable. I can't help but wonder how excited Shoshi would be if she could be here now and see the potential for change in our world. I know how positive and excited Aaron is for the future and I think she would be the same. I wish I felt as positive. I have moments of it-laughing at some incredibly funny and insightful thing that Aaron says or sharing time with my family or the friends who have gently and lovingly held me these past (almost) three years. I live for them and for Aaron's dreams and Shoshana's life.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: December 26 2008 9:08 AM
I always got a little nervous before Shoshana's and Aaron's birthday parties. Stupid. I just really wanted their parties to be fun, unique, and not over-the-top. They never had large parties, except for their bat/bar mitzvah parties (and even those weren't actually all that large.)
When they were very little, it was just family and cake. Both kids had larger parties when they turned five and six. We usually held the parties at home, although as they got older, Blazer Tag was the place they both wanted to go for the "activity" part of the party. Shoshana (being of the X-chromosome type), generally had sleepovers, although usually only with one or two girls. (Boys don't seem to do the sleepover thing all that much.) Shoshana's birthday was always during the winter break and sometimes during or right after Hanukah and that was good.
For her sixth birthday, we had the most beautiful cake. We picked some invitations that had a black and white pony frolicking in a field of flowers. I discovered a woman who lives in our neighborhood who occasionally creates cakes for others-and what a cake she made for Shoshana! She re-created the design of the card beautifully and the cake was delicious as well. I have a photo of Shoshana holding the cake before we cut into it-she and her gap-toothed grin.
Visitor: Tina Huckabee
Time: December 26 2008 9:08 AM
I didn't make butter cookies for Hanukah this year. When the kids were little, I made (and they "helped") several kinds of cookies for Hanukah. I miss the baking at Christmas that I grew up with, so I adapted some of my mother's cookie recipes to make cutout cookies for Hanukah. I discovered a honey cookie recipe that was similar to a recipe my mother made and we always cut that dough out as "Stars of David." When the kids were little, we painted the cookies with blue or white frosting and sprinkled the little decorative balls on them. What a mess! But the kids always had fun. I found those blasted little balls around the kitchen for weeks afterward. As the kids grew older, they liked mixing the blue and white frosting to create a sort of tie-dyed effect. Sometimes they still put balls on the cookies, sometimes not.
We also made a spice/butter cookie that we cut into dreidle shapes and then used the tube commercial frostings to "write" the Hebrew letters of shin, bet, nun, and hey, which is what is written on actual dreidles. The kids could then further decorate the cookies with the frosting: my only stipulation is that the lettering had to be readable and not overshadowed. They both learned script and cursive Hebrew and they would write the letters in one or the other. Actual dreidles usually have the script lettering and most people only recognize the script Hebrew, so those cookies that had cursive were "odd" for most folks.
I also make rugelach at Hanukah. Rugelach is a cream cheese/butter pastry that is traditional at Hanukah. I usually made the rugelach myself, considering that my purview-besides, I was usually sick of the kids "help" by that point. I did let them help me decide what filling to put in the crescent-shape pastry. Usually, we opted for a cinnamon-nut mixture and a raspberry/almond mixture. Once, we tried chocolate, but none of us really liked it. At Shoshana's last Hanukah, I let her role out the dough and make the crescents-she liked it doing it, but agreed that it's much more fun for me to make the rugelach and for her to eat it.
We also baked butter cookies and covered them with blue sugar. I have this cool cookie cutter that is three-dimensional and has all kinds of "Jewishy" shapes: dreidle, menorah, Mogen David, Kiddush cup, Torah scroll. We used all these shapes for the butter cookies. As I recall, these were Shoshana's favorite cookies when she was very little. As she grew older, she preferred the "Star of David" cookies with the icing. (She had quite the sweet tooth and these are very sweet cookies.)
Since Shoshi's death and until this year, I made all four batches of cookies. When she was alive, we generally ate and /or gave away all of our cookies by the end of Hanukah. I would pack a cookie or two for their school lunches the week before or during Hanukah and the cookies were dessert or breakfast or snack.. for the week. Often, we made more than one batch of each type of cookie. For the last two years though, we haven't finished all of them and in fact, I threw cookies away, and so this year I decided to ditch making the butter cookies (my personal favorite).
We also don't decorate the house anymore for Hanukah. When the kids were little, we made all sorts of glittery paper cutout menorot and dreidles for decorations. We hung these from the ceiling and taped them to walls. Wonderfully kitschy and cloyingly cute. We also hung several "Happy Hanukah" banners and we place all four of our hanukkiot on our mantle over the fireplace. I know it's traditional to place hanukkiot in windows, but we don't have quite the right sort of windows for candles. For a while, we placed our hanukkiot in the window of our breakfast area-there's just enough room for all four. However, we have a retriever with a REALLY fluffy tail and his very fluffy tail came into contact with the flames one year. Asher didn't exactly catch on fire, but his tail fur was a little.singed. The more we tried to get him away from the flames, the more excited he became and the more his tail wagged. The dog had no clue. We couldn't help but laugh and I distinctly remember Shoshana's signature cackle as we all realized our stupidity in placing the lit hanukkiot where they might be a problem for our goofy Asher. Needless to say, we moved the hanukkiot back to the mantle and there they will be for Hanukah.
We don't light Shoshana's menorah anymore. It stands beside mine, unlit. As with all the other holidays this calendar year, this will be our third Hanukah without Shoshana.
Visitor: Laura Hallock
Time: December 30 2008 8:12 AM
Thinking of you, as I do everyday. Watching everything change -- the guestbook signatures slow down, the schoolwork speeds up, the days slide by. I miss you. Not just you, Shoshana, but everyone I knew through you -- I miss the long drives along side streets, with too-early philosophical discussions and a grumpy voice in the back seat. I miss the homemade macaroni, the games of Trivial Pursuit (LOTR style) and Pictionary. And I would very much like to regain that, at least a little, even though I know it will never be the same.
In other words, I don't ever want to forget.
Visitor: Steven Weintraub
Time: December 30 2008 10:02 PM
I miss you Shosha.
I went and sat with you today. I cried. It's still not easy for me to be comfortable with the fact that you are dead.
I'm not exactly sure why I am writing this. Before you died, I seldom cried. Now I cry at everything poignant, I still feel broken.
Today you are 16.
But you are not. In many ways you will always be 13. I see your friends and they are driving cars and taking jobs.
While at the store buying flowers for you on your 16th birthday, and old friend of yours working there saw me and said, "Hi Mr. Weintraub." as if I was just bringing them home to you instead of leaving them at your grave. I almost broke down right there in the store.
I miss you Shosha.