Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stella's Wedding Dress

 Stella's funeral was last Thursday, November 14th.  She died from stomach cancer. In this photo, I am sitting in front of Stella at our friend Maryanna's wedding, about 13 years ago. Maryanna also got married in Stella's wedding dress.  Stella received such joy from sharing her dress with us!

Dear Stella,

Although your no longer with us, I feel your love, so alive, wrapped around me and anyone who still needs you.  At the funeral I could feel your love embracing Yarden, and each one of your children, holding and protecting them forever.

I know, that like a mother who holds a screaming, hitting, toddler, God, the Shechina, can handle any pain, rage, or grief we throw Her way.  In my anger, and pain I scream at God.  I demand that He hold Yarden and your precious children tightly, and show them a way through this tragedy.

Stella, you know I am no stranger to loss.  I lost my entire family, both  parents, eleven siblings, countless relatives. I have no greater tolerance for loss having lost as much as I have.  And, losing you Stella is, in a way, worse than losing my entire family.  My family is, and has always been, in an emotional coma.  They never saw me as a real person with real feelings.  You Stella, were always so alive and present.  You always saw me and valued me as the real "perfectly imperfect" person I am.
The world is just not as safe a place without you here.

Stella, when I had no home, when I could not believe in a God who would allow such hurt, you and Yarden, Elana and Brian, took me into your homes and showed me a different experience of Judaism and of God.  An experience that was real, honest, and beautiful.   Sixteen years ago, you invited me for Shabbos every single week, week after week, and created a safe place for me to heal.  I felt broken from trauma, and loss, but you only saw the unbreakable part inside me -inside all of us- that no loss, no trauma, can damage.

We have been forced to learn to live with deep gut wrenching pain.  Pain that is so intense it sometimes hurts to blink, and we find ourselves skipping breaths, because it hurts too much to breathe.

 Stella, when my heart was broken into a billion sharp pieces, and it hurt too much to blink, and breathe, you and Yarden, were not afraid to be there with me, to hold the pain with me.

 I want Yarden and your children to experience now what I received from you then.  I want them to feel their friends and family around them helping them to hold this terrible pain.  I want them to find that place of strength and wholeness inside that you always saw in me.  I know that your love will help Yarden and the children to wade through the piercing shards of what is left of their hearts, and find the part inside each of them that is indestructible.

Stella, when I came to say goodbye, about a month ago, you were clearly suffering terribly.  You could barely get out of bed.  We both knew you were near the end.  When I tried to hold you, to share the pain with you, you said to me, "Oh, Genendy, this is nothing compared to what you went through." 
 Oh, Stella! 
There are no words.

 Stella, you and Yarden showed me that you believed in me, and in a future for me, in the most profound way possible; by introducing me to my husband.  Stella, you knew I was an incest survivor, and that I was afraid to get married.  You gently encouraged me to meet my future husband, just once.  You set it up for me in a way that was too safe to refuse.  You invite both of us to the same Shabbos table and did not tell him that I was there to check him out.

You and Yarden nurtured us through our dating relationship, our engagement, and our wedding.  Yarden and Brian were my brothers, and you and Elana were the big sisters, and the mother I didn't have.  You married me in your wedding dress, and you and Elana bought me my Shabbos candle sticks which I light each week for the past fifteen years.   Together, you and Yarden brought so much life into this world.  My husband and children, are the greatest blessings in my life, and I am eternally grateful to you.

Stella, people are just not replaceable, and there is no one who will ever replace you.   I learned so many important lessons from you about how to be a wife, and how to love.   You accepted yourself Stella, and because of this, you were able to love and accept those around you unconditionally.

I remember a couple of times, I expressed surprise that Yarden's latest escapade or adventure didn't upset you.  (I knew it would have upset me!)  You laughed and shrugged, and with a twinkle in your eye said, "That's just Yarden."

 You and Yarden were role models for me in how to be in a relationship.   Remember when we took you out for dinner for our tenth anniversary?  We played the Newlywed game.  You guys won hands down.  The depth to which you knew and understood each other showed me what was possible to strive for in my own  relationship.  You were best friends and it showed.  I regret that we only did that once.

Stella, I know your family still needs you.  I know I still need you.  God thinks otherwise.  It's so hard to accept God's will and to let you go.  Stella, I miss you.  I love you.  I don't know how Yarden is going to carry on.  I cried, and pleaded and begged for your life.  I demanded that God let you live.
The answer was, No.

I'm still reeling.



  1. DearGenendy,

    Your words are so beautiful. I'm so fortunate to have been involved in your story. I remember what was probably one of the first times we'd met you, driving you to Beth Shalom with you sitting on the floor of the car. I don't remember what was said on that car ride but I remember I really liked the lady we gave a ride to.

    Just like my dad and Yarden were like big brothers to you, you and Julien have been like my older siblings too. When I was all alone in yeshiva in Israel my favorite place to go was to your home. The Frankls were an easy choice for me to go to but I found your home to be my home away from home.

    Two of my favorite memories from my childhood were 1. when you and I went and made balloon animals at the Baltimore Harbor and 2. when Julien took me to my first Ravens game. You guys are so special and I'm so glad to call you my friends.


  2. What a beautiful recollection. I remember those times, shared Shabbatot at the Frankls, very fondly. Thank you for sharing this.