While the sun shined overhead and my husband tidied up the gravesite, our seven-year-old started to sing a silly song. As I gently explained why a cemetery wasn’t really the place for such activity, he interrupted me. “But Mommy,” he said. “I’m singing a song to make Elad smile. Don’t you want him to be happy?” Surprised by his question, I looked at him and struggled to find an answer.
Yogev was five years old when we told him about Elad, the brother who died before he was born. Having discussed it with my husband several months earlier, it hadn’t occurred to either of us not to share this tragic piece of our family’s history. We didn’t want secrets; we didn’t want to create a situation where Yogev turned around years later in anger, demanding to know why we waited so long to tell him, or even worse – confronting us because he’d inadvertently found out from someone else. In short, we didn’t want to live our life with an elephant in the room. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
After picking my nine-year-old son up from school the other day, I asked him to sit next to me on the couch. I told him I loved him, reminded him that I would never be angry at him for being honest and then, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, proceeded to gently ascertain whether or not he had seen pornography on the Internet while at a friend’s house.
The boy’s mother had phoned me the previous evening and described the chain of events which had seemingly led to her discovery. My instincts told me that if they’d somehow managed to find their way to porn, it was probably inadvertent, and this was the message I did my best to convey to the other mother. Not that it mattered in the grand scheme of things, but if there was any small semblance of comfort that I could draw on, it was in thinking that these sites were reached by accident and not on purpose.
My head was reeling, though. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
When I heard that the wife of one of my brother’s oldest friends had lost a child, I sent a carefully worded email to her husband, asking if Stacey might want to talk to someone who had been through something similar. She did, and the connection was made.
That was approximately eleven years ago, and over the years, Stacey and I kept up our correspondence at varying degrees of frequency, never losing the special connection we’d created out of a mutual, almost desperate need for support from someone who understood. As we managed to have other children and move on to other subjects, that shared, profoundly visceral understanding of devastating loss has always been at the heart of our friendship.
Stacey and I have exchanged hundreds of emails, yet no opportunity had ever presented itself for us to meet in person – until recently. My brother and his family were celebrating the Bat-Mitzvah of their eldest daughter, which – conveniently for us – fell during my son’s Passover vacation. I was looking forward to seeing family and friends, but from the moment I decided that we’d make this trip, much of the joy I felt was in knowing that I would finally have the chance to meet Stacey, whose painful journey had been such an integral part of my own healing process. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
Since this current round of fighting began, I’ve been overwhelmed by the concern shown in emails, messages and chats – friends, relatives and acquaintances checking in to see how we’re doing, voicing their love and support (both for us personally and for Israel as a whole) and reminding us to “stay safe”. And yet, no matter how many times I tell friends and loved ones abroad that we don’t live within missile range, it continues to sound like one of the most surreal statements I’ve ever written. Even after living here for more than twenty years, it’s still jarring to have to talk about one’s life in such terms, especially when our usual state of normal isn’t much different from the way my peers are living abroad.
There’s something very unnerving about day-to-day life under these conditions. On the one hand, a large portion of the southern part of the country is essentially under siege, being hit with barrage after barrage of missiles. Friends in the central part of the country have gotten a small – some would say very small – taste of what that’s like too, as Hamas tries to flex its muscles and show off its capabilities by periodically firing rockets in the direction of the greater Tel Aviv area and even towards Jerusalem. Yet here in the relative north, aside from noting the absence of colleagues and friends who’ve been called up for duty and a difference in the traffic on the roads, life continues as usual. It’s been so “normal”, in fact, that I haven’t felt the need to actually explain to my eight-year-old son what’s going on, instead preferring to follow his lead and address his questions as they arise.by Liza Rosenberg
…the title of my latest story for Haaretz. Moving to a new country is never easy, even when it’s something you really want to do. When the decision involves uprooting your kids, making that move can prove to be even more challenging. Pals Zahava Bogner and Jamie Traeger-Muney were kind enough to share their aliyah stories with me for this piece, and Jamie, a psychologist by profession and one of the founders of Olim4olim, provided me with lots of great professional advice.
The article can be found here.by Liza Rosenberg
You would think that after 13 years, my coping skills would be better. And yet, here I am once again, just a few days shy of January 20th, the anniversary of our firstborn’s passing, quietly (or perhaps not so quietly) struggling to maintain the remaining shreds of my sanity through wave after wave of wildly unpredictable emotions.
Some years, it passes by smoothly and practically unnoticed. Other years are harder. Last year was especially rough. As I awaited the upcoming release of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery”, which contained a story I’d written about our loss (coming with its own set of mixed emotions), I was blindsided by the news that a good friend lost her three-year-old daughter in an accident. On its own, the news would certainly have sent me reeling, but combined with what I was feeling over my own impending milestone date, I quickly found myself engulfed in raw, searing, emotional anguish that I hadn’t felt in years. My old wounds had been unexpectedly ripped open, and I wasn’t sure if the agony I was feeling was more for my friend or for myself. As I tried to be there for her, I worked very hard at trying not to let her or most people know just how bad off I was. I don’t know if I succeeded or not.by Liza Rosenberg
For me, one of the most remarkable aspects of Facebook is that it provides so many of us with an opportunity to come full circle; to reach beyond the relatively shallow aspects of our former, younger selves and build on the positive aspects of the relationships of our youth. We have, hopefully, shed our bitchy, divisive teenage angst and injected wisdom and maturity accumulated during the years that have passed, allowing these relationships to grow on new, wonderful levels. Perhaps you weren’t friendly with everyone back in the day, but to a certain degree, each individual played a role in the tapestry of our formative years – loving us, hating us or not knowing we existed, with a never-ending palette of grey shades in between.
As a member of such a community, I feel very blessed. I am often in awe of how we have come together with a unity that deserves to be celebrated, despite the time gone by and the great physical distances between us. I am encouraged by our collective urge to reach out to one another as adults and the desire to cast aside our childhood differences and form friendships with those who knew us when.
My friend A is one of those. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
As I watch you sleeping in the night
Arms wrapped around your pillow, oh so tight
Little fingers clutch a furry little toy
Dispelling any daytime myths
That you’re not a little boy
And in the darkness, you beckon me to come
A frightened little boy who wants his mum
Eyes barely open, I stumble to your side
Take you in my arms
Your little body close to mine
You’re the jackpot I never thought I’d win
I get lost when you flash your gap-toothed grin
You make up for all that came before
You’re all I ever wanted, and infinitely more
Oh, I know you’re not perfect…
But when it comes down to it – who is?
When you’re the best you that you can be
For me it’s simply bliss
And as I watch you sleeping in the night
In darkness broken by a little light
I say a silent prayer, wishing this could last
Wishing that my little boy
Would not grow up so fast
It’s hard to believe that July 8th marks 13 years since our first son was born. As I try not to think about the Bar Mitzvah we aren’t planning, my mind turns to my handsome seven-year-old. On a hot summer day two years ago (after giving it a great deal of thought), we told him about the brother he’ll never have a chance to meet. The subsequent journey has evoked a wide range of feelings and emotions as he processes the information in his own way and time. Months of silence are interspersed with phases peppered with questions, unexpected situations and the occasional heart-wrenching outburst, sometimes making me wonder if sharing was, indeed, the right thing to do.
I am fascinated by the way he’s managed to incorporate this brother he never knew into his own personal narrative. As far as he’s concerned, he’s not an only child; if you ask him, chances are he’ll tell you – seemingly without putting too much thought into what he’s saying – that he had a brother, but his brother died. He’s told teachers when they’ve asked and told friends as well. He even went through a phase of drawing pictures of our family, pictures that included his brother. One such drawing showed a smiling little boy surrounded by a circle of hearts, while another showed the three of us around his brother, who had an additional circle around him – for protection. I keep the pictures in the top drawer of my nightstand, careful not to crush or crumple them by always keeping them on top – safe and out of sight. (more…)by Liza Rosenberg
When day is done
I shall not weep
I’ll close my eyes
And try to sleep
Try not to think
Of days long gone
Try not to think
Of special songs
Try not to think
Of games we played
Try not to think
Or be afraid
To live my life
Without you here
To wait in vain
You won’t appear
Except in dreams
I see your face
And so I wait
For sleep’s embrace