Missing Sasha on the last day of Shiva

Sasha and Lynn, May 25 2006
We were visited in the morning by Judith Librach with her little daughter Jessie along with Meredith and little Sarah. Judith's Dad Dr Larry Librach is the director of palliative care at Mt Sinai and when Pamela was ready to explore palliative care she first spoke to Judith. Moments when little girls crowd around Mia and speak to the cat are moments of normality, temporary respites from feeling Sasha's absence. In the afternoon Fran and Allan visited and we drifted into talk about the music we loved. Later Judith's husband Ryan Peck visited with little Ella, a nice bookend to the day. Ryan is a lawyer who works for Legal Aid, my kind of guy, and we see eye to eye on many things as the conversation turned to jewish education for kids and the recent ugliness in Israel and Palestine. Sarah Laiah and Steve Petroff also visited and that was a special connection to the group I befriended at Temple Emanu-El confirmation class in 1981-2 just after I arrived from South Africa. We ran through where everyone was - Sarah wants to plan a 25th anniversary of our trip to Israel, something to look forward to next summer.

Tonight was the last day of shiva and it weighed heavily. Each night I have conjured up Sasha in my mind during the service and they have been emotional. But tonight it was painful. Each day has been different in regard to how much I missed her, perhaps on some days I was just more distracted than on others. I felt at times like a tour guide, standing at the bottom of the steps, This way to see Mia, This way to shiva service. Tonight I wanted to be alone after the service and went to sit in the backyard. Later Raina joined me and said she thinks of her father Bruce every day and that she can hear Sasha's voice. After everyone left, we came upstairs. Pam was crying and watched some videos of Sasha starting to walk, the night before surgery. I had to walk away and get some biltong from downstairs. A bit later while Mia fed, we spoke about some plans and that was what I needed. I guess there is a fine line between remembering to the point of heartache and sinking into a depression and surely some of it must relate to how we spend our time and how alone we are. Pam and I seem to balance together and stay away from the rocks. When I told her Raina hears Sasha's voice she says she remembers the first visit after surgery before Sasha was reintubated and she HI, with a deep grating rasp. Sometimes I am thankful I do not have Pamela's memory and my reminders are the happy videos.

I love this picture of Lynn and Sasha, they seem so cozy together and Sasha looks older than she does in the other pictures around this time. What an intense soul.


  1. Dear Sasha,

    Tonight was the last night of Shiva. I feared so much coming to your home to say good-bye. I didn’t know what to expect. Would I cry in front of your mommy and upset her, would I sit in the corner and just try and look relaxed and comfortable? Would I say goodbye to you through your parents? Would I go to your room and feel a sinking in my breath, as I realized that you would never lie in there again, although everything in there is yours (with the exception of the new beautiful words on the wall under your name that read “MIA RUBY”)? Was it easier to say goodbye at the beautiful cemetery where your body rests, with your grandpa Bruce (whom your mom speaks of often), holding his hand, because that is not where you lived, that is not where you fed, that is not where you bled, that is not where you were conceived and that is not where your soul passed on to another realm.

    I admit talking to Lynn was awesome. She took some of my fears away and shared stories of you and your Grandma Lorna and your “no, no” game with me and that made me want to bawl, but I put on my best smiley face and looked at your beautiful sister and, in my heart, there and then, knew you were no longer in pain and that those left to suffer would rather suffer for you than with you.

    Your mom and dad will do the pretty hard time now –just knowing that your mom cries breaks my heart, and to see the vacancy in your daddy’s eyes tonight, made it all so real. They are not just tired and exhausted, they are unequivocally sad, and I am sure frustrated at the question “why you?”

    I have no answers tonight. I wish I could say something notable that would bring a laugh or a smirk. Lynn said it best, “just be there for [them], they are going to need you.”

    Goodnight, sweet Sasha. Thank you for everything you gave to this world. And we will all pitch in and help mommy and daddy, with their pain, with their grief and eventually with their healing.

    Cyndi xoxo

  2. Anonymous12:01 AM

    Jonathan, Pamela, and Mia: I have been reading both Sasha's and Mia's blogs for the past 10 days in an effort to make sense of things that happen in this world. Jonathan, your post talks about the many links between people; the links that you are finding as you go through this process. So as I read your posts, I find the names of so many people connected to my own life -- Raina, my friend from so many years ago; Jonathan, my classmate; Sarah Laiah and Stephen, my classmates and youth group friends; Fran and Allan, my friends. We are all connected, in sorrow and in joy; these connections offer us strength and they support our frailty; these connections are what make us human.
    Wishing you peace,
    Susie Petersiel Berg