Rabbi Sherre Hirsch: I want my mother's eulogy to be perfect. As a rabbi, I have given and heard a lot of eulogies. Some are stronger than others. Sometimes the speaker captures the true essence of a person. Other times they speak about themselves. They speak in superlatives, but not truth. They ramble and they repeat themselves. Knowing this, I am hyperaware of the type of eulogy I want to give.
I have never eulogized a parent -- at my father's funeral, I decided not to speak. My brother did the talking. But this time, I know I want to say something. But what? I want to say everything.
Every day I find myself remembering something else from our forty years together. The time she surprised me and we flew to San Francisco for the day and we did not tell anyone, not even my father, that we were leaving. The time she was the middle school mom and drove my friends and I three hours to a track meet. The time she baked hundreds of cookies for the holiday of Purim to sell at the bake sale. So which detail is most important? Which will sum up all the things that I want to say?
My experiences with her are only a small window into her life. She is so much more. Do I talk about her generosity of spirit? Or that she has more friends than Facebook could handle on one profile? Do I mention that she worries obsessively? She can be controlling. She never likes to leave the house without her hair and makeup picture-perfect.
How do I capture her life? Her personality? Her passion? How do I capture her in the few minutes I have allotted without boring all the attendees?
Sometimes I try to sit and jot something down, but I stop myself before pen meets paper. Am I hastening her death? Is it kosher to write someone's eulogy before they have died? Is it morbid? Then I think of all the newspapers that publish a pre-written eulogy the day after the death of someone famous. I never blamed the newspaper for bringing on the angel of death, but I am not taking any chances.
So for now, I write and rewrite it every day in my head, hoping that when the time comes, I will know what to say. My fear is that when the time comes, I will have nothing prepared and nothing to say. My grief will overtake my thoughts and I will stand there weeping.
|Rabbi Sherre Z. Hirsch, mother of three, is only the 60th woman ordained in the Conservative movement. She currently serves as spiritual consultant for the world-renowned Canyon Ranch. Hirsch authored "We Plan, God Laughs: 10 Steps to Finding Your Divine Path When Life Is Not Turning Out Like You Wanted." She holds two master's degrees and received her BA from Northwestern.|