There have been many blessings in my life, but it was the first one I ever received that had the most profound impact: having Debbi Buckler, Devorah Michal Bas Chana Liba, as my mother. Loving, exuberant, joyful, fun, adventurous, and larger than life, she gave her whole heart and her whole self to those she held dear. It is this gift that made her such a beautiful mother, wife, teacher and friend. As her daughter, I never had to doubt for one second that I was loved deeply, and that I would always have a safe place to go when the world got too ferocious.
There is no way to overstate my mother’s capacity to give love, to share herself with others and to infuse her enthusiasm for life into those around her. If she loved you, she let you know it. And often. She made everyone feel welcome, especially in her home. A good friend of mine in high school would come by when I wasn’t even there just to say hello to Mom and help himself to Cheerios before heading home. In fact, I was often jealous when my friends would come over and spend more time gabbing with Mom than they would with me. Later, I watched with awe when my stepdaughters met my mother for the first time, and within minutes, they were all reading books together and laughing on the floor.
My mother was the real deal. She pulled no punches; she told you exactly what she thought. She was unashamedly herself, no matter what the company. As a result, she had friends from all walks of life and they all thought the world of her. Her ability to reach others was truly remarkable. Be it with a hug, a listening ear or a pan of Rice Krispie Treats, my mother found what people needed most and went out of her way to provide it for them.
The last time I spoke to my mother I told her that if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be alive today. During my years of personal struggle, my mother offered me unconditional love and support and provided me with a foundation upon which I could build myself back up. During my darkest times, I would think of her and the power of her love would draw me back into life. It is not an understatement to say that my mother gave me life and then saved it, many times over. I have grown into the person I am today because of her.
My mother was a woman who was so full of life, it is difficult for me to comprehend her life ending. Were she here, she would say that her legacy was her children, and she would be right. My mother gave everything she had to build a family that is truly extraordinary. We share an impenetrable bond of love, we support each other and accept each other unconditionally, and that is because of her. In this time of indescribable grief, we have each other to lean on. That is her parting gift to us.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, Mah zar’o bachayyim, af hu bachayyim, “So long as your children live, so long does the parent live”. Mom was great teacher because she knew that it isn’t about reading and writing. It’s about love. All people, especially children, want to know that they are loved. My mother gave us that gift and taught us how to give it to others. Now that I am a mother, I hope to take what I’ve learned from her and share it with my son. In this way, so long as I live, my mother will continue to live.
To be honest, the enormity of this loss has yet to set in. I can hardly imagine the reality of a world without her in it. I think of the children whose lives she could have touched, the grandchildren who will never know the joy of being loved by her. I think of the graduations, the weddings and the births at which she will be absent. My mother’s death is an enormous tragedy and a great loss. And yet, in the years she had, she gave enough to span many lifetimes. For that I can be grateful, because that is what she would have done.