When Life Ends

When Life Ends

Moriah wanted a small gymnastics mat for her bat mitzvah. So I looked in stores, and I looked online, and after a lot of searching, I found something that looked good and remarkably inexpensive (free international shipping even!) on Ebay. I ordered it, crossed “gymnastics mat” off my to-do list, and told Moriah it should be here in a few weeks.

But then yesterday I got an Email from Ebay’s fraud department. The seller and the mat, they suspected, were fakes. Contact your credit card company. Back to the drawing board.

This morning, I decided to spend an hour going through the bat mitzvah photos we just received from the photographer. This is not as easy as it sounds since there are over 500 photos, and there are several slightly different versions of each family photo. So I had to carefully make my way through each version and pick out the very nicest ones, finally sending out the very best to our family and relatives.

Afterwards, imagining how much nachas the grandparents would soon receive, I went down to the kitchen to get a bite to eat, but when I returned to my computer, all the emails had bounced back to me. File exceeds maximum size limit.

Years ago I read the autobiography of a religious mother who fought cancer for many years and started an organization in Jerusalem to help other women with cancer. In her book, I read about her childhood, about her life as a young mother, about her struggles as the mother of growing daughters, about the financial challenges she faced as well as the difficulties of caring for aging parents overseas.

And then the book ended. Abruptly. Suddenly. In the middle of all her struggles and working on this issue and those problems, she died.

And reading this, the ending of that book, was one of the most existentially jarring experiences of my life.

It made me realize that for my whole life I had imagined death wrong. I had imagined, fantasized, that the end of life comes when we are done. When we have overcome all our challenges, struggles, imperfections.

And I learned from this woman’s life and her death that life isn’t about succeeding, about perfection, about finishing our grand to-do list, checked off for all eternity.

It’s just about waking up and trying to be a good wife and mother and Jew. Putting one foot in front of the other (even if sometimes I stumble) day by day.


  1. Leah Haziza

    according to Rabbi Mannis Friedman, life never dies, what dies? or comes to an end? our physical existence – till the resurrection of the dead

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLmh0azH9rw&feature=share (in case you want to watch)


  2. Bracha Goetz


  3. Sara Brejt

    I guess it really is just about “the journey”…..Thank you, thought-provoking post.

  4. wow.

  5. Wow. Thank you for sharing this!

  6. I was going to say, “wow”. But then felt that was rather unoriginal having read others comments!
    Very thought provoking. Thank you. Do you remember what book it was?

  7. Thank you! I find this so true and inspiring and just what I need to hear as I stress about everything I have to get done…. it is exactly as you write. Good luck to all of us staying focused on what’s really important.

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