My mother passed away from a brain aneurysm at the young age of 44. I always feel her presence, but recently it was extra special. I knew she was with me as I officiated this past Sunday at the wedding of Shoshana Gottfried and Reuben Morrow in Stamford, Conn.
As a Rabbi, one of the most stirring moments for me at a wedding is as I am standing underneath the chuppah, the wedding canopy, awaiting the bride and groom. As they are escorted by their parents, I sense the fulfillment of dreams, love and continuity. I think of my family and the joy and angst of separation as a parent "lets go" of a child. My heart moves.
Yesterday, I began to cry.
As the service begins, I always acknowledge the presence of loved ones who are no longer alive in body but present in spirit. Shoshana shared with me that she knew her mother Marsha, who died years ago, was also with her. As the procession began, I could not stop crying.
I could not help but think of my mother, of blessed memory, who died over 20 years ago and never met my wife, Diane and our children. She was not there to walk me down the aisle.
As Shoshana and Reuben stood ready to enter a new chapter in their lives, I wiped away my tears and shared why I was crying. I let Shoshana know that although my mother was not physically present with me, I knew she was there with me in spirit on Sept. 3, 1990 in South Carolina and assured Shoshana that her mother, Marsha, was with her as well.
I think the entire room shed a tear for my mother and for Marsha. But it was a tear not of sadness but of comfort.
As I feel my mother's presence every day, I know Marsha's spirit will be present in Shoshana and Reuben's lives with the help of God for many years as they build a home together. I began the ceremony and within minutes the tears of sadness and comfort turned to tears of joy.
Upon reflection, I realized my mother, who was a teacher, in those few minutes, taught me a life-affirming lesson. It would have been easy for me as the officiating Rabbi to try hide my emotions. However, when I revealed a layer of my soul I offered comfort and ignited the souls of everyone in the room. The bonds we share in our core can serve as the basis for deepening relationships and forging connections from the heart.
I miss my mom greatly but am so grateful for her being my muse and source of strength and inspiration.
For more by Rabbi Daniel Cohen, click here.
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