Sacred Spaces

On the last day of my staff trip to Israel, a small group of friends and colleagues accompanied me to the dedicatory space in the "Offer Forest" in Carmel to dedicate the pillar that stands there in Maxie's memory.  I knew that it would be incredibly hard, but my plan was to remain poised and deliver a few words about my beloved baby before the unveiling of his pillar.

They set up a really nice space - chairs, a table with drinks and cookies and a podium that we could use to speak from.  They dug a hole behind the pillar, where we planted an almond tree together after the ceremony.  The plaque looked beautiful.  The space was serene.  Other than the fact that Ted and Mo were not there - it was "perfect".  But, as soon as we pulled into the spot, it felt far from perfect.  It was anything BUT perfect.  My child should have been at home with his brother, being looked after by his daddy, grandmas and nanny.  I should have been visiting the next stop on our staff itinerary instead of sitting an hour away from them at a memorial site for my son.  I hate that this is the way life is.  I simply hate it.

My boss, Russell, delivered a beautiful speech about friendship, loss, and commitment.  I thought that I would be able to deliver something equally composed and meaningful - but I broke.  I started speaking and then shaking and then crying my eyes out.  The words came out in a jumble.  There was no flow to my thoughts really and I forgot everything I wanted to say.

I was lucky to have friends there who know and love me.  My best friends in Israel are brother and sister: Ofir and Tali.  I am also close with Ofir's wife, Orit, and their parents, Ezzie and Hanna.  They all came to the ceremony along with two Israeli colleague/girlfriends: Yael and Liat.  I knew I didn't want to be alone but also knew that I couldn't have the whole group there.  It would have been too much for me to take.

I left feeling emotionally spent - totally exhausted.  I rejoined the group and was embraced by those who knew where I had been.  It was really really hard.  There is little real satisfaction in the normal sense of the word to doing things in memory of Max.  It feels "right" to memorialize him, because the reality is that he is gone....but it feels more "wrong" that that is our reality.  Of course, it is important to us that this place exists - he deserves sacred spaces on this earth.

It's just that he deserves so much more than that and I really believe that we do too.
Russell and I unveiling Maxie's pillar

Ofir, Tali and I

The Feingolds

My JNF family


jessica said...

I love you very much. I am so sorry that you have to memorialize your beautiful, sweet boy. It really isn't enough. For Maxie. For you, Ted and Mo. For all of us who love Maxie and you guys. It is comforting knowing that you had the Feingolds and the amazing Russell with you. I wish we could have all been there to hold you up and surround you with love. Please know that we did our best from afar and that you have been on our minds and in our hearts. I am sorry that Maxie is not here. I am sorry that you have to live with this heartbreak. Sending you love and thinking of Maxie as always. xoxo

robyn said...

Abby, I am so sorry that this is your reality. I am sorry that Maxie isn't here with you and that you have to live with this constant pain of this huge loss. The memorial is beautiful and I am glad that you had the support of your Israeli family and friends there to support you. Your love and commitment to Maxie is apparent in everything you do. We will always remember him. I hope one day I can make it back to Israel and when I do I will be sure to visit Maxie's forest. I love you, Ted, Maxie and Mo!

Leslie K. said...


So so sorry that this memorial has to exist. It's tragic and it's not right. I am glad you were surrounded by loving friends for the dedication. It looks like a beautiful, serene spot and it seems fitting that the sun was shining the day you were there to reflect Max's shining spirit.

Seeing Each Day said...

Dear Abby, this is too much of a brief reply to include all the words that need to be said, but this journey of yours to israel was bound to be such a huge, huge week, and I don't think I could have managed it, but you have. You have managed those highs, those disappointing lows and those very emotional (understandable) moments. Thank you for the photos, especially in the last two days, Renee.

GrahamForeverInMyHeart said...

It's just wrong that instead of Maxie, you have a pillar. I know because I have a park bench instead of my son.

Abby Leviss said...

I'm sorry for every parent who has a monument instead of their living, breathing, cuddling child. It isn't fair.

Taryn said...

The last photo of you standing as pillar among pillars makes me sad, yet it also feels so sacred. It stands as a testament that you will go to the ends of the earth and beyond to show your love for your sweet baby. You will stand for him when you feel like dying. You will speak of your love and devotion, even when words will never suffice. You will love him with all your being and will do whatever is in your power to show that love. You are a beautiful mother to both of your children. I admire you greatly for that.