Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Blessing of My Tears

Written in memory of my father, Maury Joseph Fechter  מרדכי יוסף בן שמואל on his 2nd Yortzeit, כד׳ אב.

In honor of my father's 2nd Yortzeit, I have a special request: Please don't apologize for my tears!

In the last two years, I've experienced such a variety of emotions that it is sometimes hard to sort them all out.  Sadness, loss, grief, anger, love, pride, joy, excitement, longing... the list continues.  Getting married was a true emotional high and such a joyous day.  Walking to the chuppah without my father by my side was something I had never imagined. 

I've cried so many kinds of tears in the last two years that it is impossible to keep track... and sometimes impossible to hold them back.  And I don't want to.  

Each tear is love.  

Each and every tear is a memory, part and parcel with the emotions it triggers.  

And each tear keeps my father close to me in ways that I cannot describe.  But I will try. 

I am so very proud to be my father's daughter.  He was a kind and compassionate man, who quietly tried to take away pain wherever he could.  The Rabbi who conducted my new niece's naming drew a comparison to spices... everyone who met my father walked away with a positive experience.  What a high bar he set for the little granddaughter who carries his name!  

My father was a talented and gentle dentist who preferred not to be any more intrusive than necessary.  I miss him every time I schedule an appointment to sit in the dental chair.  Moreover, he was a dental therapist, who helped calm the emotional nerves, while the novicane controlled the physical ones. 

I tear up when I hear a familiar cadence, or when my husband unknowingly uses a similar mannerism.  I cry to think that my husband never met my father and will never know how wonderfully similar they are in kindness and caring and compassion (as well as punniness and culinary interests).  

I know it sounds like I'm crying all the time (inside, if not outwardly), but I'm not.  I live my life as my father would wish, experiencing positive, happy emotions on a daily basis as well.  Sometimes months go by without a tear.  Sometimes the floodgates open with a particular trigger.  I generally cope pretty well, with moments of weakness here and there.  I'm choosing to give voice to those moments now because they have become a part of me and a part of my process.  And because one thing I wish more people understood about grief is that I'm not ashamed of my tears.   

I get emotional when thinking about my memories and also when I'm afraid that my memories are getting lost. I'm angry at my father for leaving without warning and, at the same time, glad he didn't suffer.  I miss asking him my dental questions - no one will ever take as good care of me in that chair as he did.  And I miss the memories I'll never have - of him meeting my husband, walking me down the aisle, and holding my children.  

It's a mixed deck, but it's the hand I've been dealt.  My biggest fear is that with time he'll slip away completely.  That I'll stop crying one day for good.  And I can't bear that thought.  Because I want to feel.  I need to remember.  I must tell his grandchildren and great-grandchildren what a wonderful Zayde they had.  

Sometimes the tears run quietly down my face, and sometimes they are accompanied by sobs.  Sometimes they simply glisten at the corners of my eyes.  Sometimes there are long dry spells; while sometimes they come in a flood.  But each one is an expression of love.  A memory.  A thought or a feeling.  

Each one tells me that I can still feel.  And for that I'm truly grateful.  

So please, please... don't apologize for my tears.  Offer me a tissue or a hug, or better yet, offer a memory or ask me to share one with you.  Help me remember, help me feel, and most of all, let me add my tears to the river of memory. 


I am an educator who is trained to reflect, not a rabbi or any type of halachic authority. These writings are in no way binding, and may not represent all approaches to and experiences in navigating grief. In fact, there will likely be those who disagree with me or can offer additional suggestions and reflections. For this reason, I am leaving the comments section open so that together as a community, we can broaden the scope of this blog to include a majority of human experience.

One important request: Please be respectful in posting your comments and be sure to frame your tips in the most positive phrasing possible. I reserve the right to delete any unkind comments and plan to update the original posts occasionally to include additional insights and reflections from our combined experience.

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