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It’s the special occasions and milestones that make us long for our parents. In those moments we are all children, basking under their loving gaze.
Losing a parent is one of the hardest things we have to deal with in this lifetime. If we are lucky, and we had a good relationship, we know how we felt about each other. But even knowing this, we miss them, and particularly miss them when big events happen. Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, births, Christmas.
Lyss Stern had a close and loving relationship with her father. Even though he wasn’t always well, he was there for her and her kids.
He was also particularly fond of her oldest son. The two of them bonded over a mutual love of baseball.
Before her dad passed, he let her know how much she meant to him, and how proud of her he was. It meant the world to her, and Lyss recognized this as the gift that it was. But it didn’t make her miss him less when her son turned 13.
When it was time for her son to be bar mitzvah-ed, Lyss planned ceremonies both in the USA and abroad, in Israel.
It was the trip of a lifetime – something she had wanted to do with her parents when she was younger. Unfortunately her childhood trip to Israel with her parents had to be cancelled. It wasn’t meant to be.
For both ceremonies, Lyss made sure that her son wore something of his grandfather’s. He donned his grandfather’s tallit (prayer shawl) and a very special tie. Call it tradition, nostalgia or sentimentality… There’s something about special personal objects that help us feel connected at times like these. It’s like a touch through time and a brush with spirit. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, or maybe it really is one way to connect with the people we have loved and lost.
The ceremony in Israel was especially moving. They gathered around, in front of a section of the Western Wall where men and women are able to mingle. It’s a special area, filled with multiple celebrations and celebrants most days. Ululating women chuck candy and hipster best men play the bongo drums.
You can feel the more recent energy of a thousand happy occasions glittering like stardust strew across this plaza. It gathers between the ancient stones and swirls in the air. Even the swooping doves seem to feel it. This place is magical, extra special.
Everyone missed having Lyss’s dad at the ceremony in Israel – most especially Lyss and her son.
“Grandpa will always be with you,” she assured her son.
She knew her dad would be proud, as she was, of her son. It brought tears to her eyes. Then something happened, the energy shifted. Lyss felt her dad and she knew he was there. Thousands of miles from home, they were together again in that moment.
It’s a hard thing to describe, that feeling of being gifted with a visit from a beloved relative who has passed. But if you’ve felt it, really felt it, you know.
In this episode I chatted with Lyss about her relationship with her father, how he was always there for her, and how he still makes himself known.
Lyss Stern is the author of Motherhood is a B#tch and can be found on DivaMoms. She’s a beautiful people person, and also a force of nature, I think. I was so fortunate to meet her on a media trip to Israel, and consider myself even more fortunate that she took the time and shared this story with me.