Howie passed away when Lily was 10 and Amanda was 12 – five months before she turned 13. And seven months before the date we had set for her Bat Mitzvah.
A Bat Mitzvah service is beautiful. It is about coming of age, religion, and family. It is a proud moment for the child as well as the parents.
The party after the service is a huge celebration with friends and family. And where I live, it can be HUGE. Some of them can be a little over the top. Think “Keeping Up with the Steins”.
Howie and I had already started to look at places to have the party, and honestly it was the only time that we actually fought. He was insistent that we were not going to spend a ton of money or get carried away with this party. While I agreed with him, it was hard not to get caught up in it when it is ALL anyone is talking about and you witness what everyone else is doing.
I think that Howie and I went to two or three Bar/Bat Mitzvahs together before he died. If I remember correctly, one was the week before it happened. They were fun – we danced and ate and drank and celebrated with our friends. We were beginning to get a feel for the kind of party we wanted to have for Amanda, and for Lily two years later. We were starting to get excited.
This first couple of months after Howie was gone, I put all of this on the back burner. There were so many other things I had to deal with.
But time was going by and Amanda was pushing me to start planning this party for her. I started to avoid it because I didn’t want to deal with it.
How can I make a Bat Mitzvah and have a celebration like that without Howie? How can I sit through the service without him? I really didn’t know if it was possible for me to do this so soon.
I came up with what I thought was a great idea. I met with our rabbi to ask his opinion about it.
My thought was to wait a year for Amanda’s Bat Mitzvah and do Lily’s a year early. I would combine the two and have one big Bat Mitzvah for both of them. I really felt that we needed more time. I will never forget his response to this idea.
He said that he would do WHATEVER I wanted to do but he was afraid that if I did this, Amanda would always remember that her dad died and then her mom made her wait a year to have her Bat Mitzvah. He was afraid she would resent me for it. And Lily would resent having to push hers up a year when she might not be ready, and have to share with her sister.
He did understand that the date was fast approaching and that it might be too soon for me. He suggested waiting a few months for Amanda’s and having it at the end of August instead of the end of May. He also suggested a much smaller and shorter service so that it would be easier on both Amanda and I.
The minute that he said all of this, my decision was made. I had to do this for them.
They were going through so much. They were each going to have their own Bat Mitzvahs when they were supposed to. What I did do was take him up on the idea to wait three months. Amanda was good with this solution.
I will always be grateful to him for being honest with me and telling me what I needed to hear. And for also creating the special service that he did for Amanda.
So now it was time. I had to start getting it together and plan Amanda’s Bat Mitzvah. This was a huge and very scary task…
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.