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honoring judy and selma

Honoring Judy and Selma

by Andrea
June 28, 2015

I really don’t know where to begin. I feel at a loss for words. A big silence fills me at this time. In this silent space the essence of a love so sweet and tender vibrates like the mesmerizing shimmer of light on a soft lake at dusk. It is hard to move, to think, to do anything. Only to be still, and to allow a new chapter to wash over.

As many of you know (and some of you may not), Judy’s 99-year old mother Selma passed away last week. She passed peacefully in the middle of the night. Judy was there, enormously grateful for her mom’s peaceful passing. 

And so I am writing today not about my own elderly mother, but about my dear friend Judy, and about the love and respect I have for her as a person, a friend and an example of what is possible between an elderly mother and her adult daughter. Judy’s transparent writings of her experience with her mother span from the challenge of her mom’s stroke 3 years ago to the sublime and tender sweetness of their final days together. Her stories have filled many pages of this blog site, and have rippled out through social media waves, ultimately touching and inspiring the lives and hearts of so many others. 

Although I briefly met Selma about 20 years ago, I did not really know her directly. But through Judy, and these past 3 years of writing this blog together, I have grown to know and love Selma—everything from her laughter to her wit, from her creativity to her directness, from the strength of her spirit to the depth of her love for life and her love for Judy. Yes, I will miss her—and yet, Judy leaves behind the documented journey of their last 3 years together, a treasure trove of philosophical insights and unexpected discoveries—always with a ray of light, humility, and understanding even at the toughest times. Selma will live on in these essays.

I am surprised by how raw, sad and impacted I feel. With my own elderly mother now 97-years old, Selma's passing feels closer than close. When someone dies at 99-years old, you may not think you would feel so sad. 99-years old is an incredibly long life, and there is so much to be grateful for. So much to celebrate. And while this is true, there is also enormous sadness. When a human life comes to an end, no matter what the age, it is final. There is no coming back. This finality can be extremely difficult to let in and integrate. Sadness seems to be our deepest human response to this transition.

In speaking with Judy the other day, I felt a mixture of everything in her. I felt her grief, her strength, her tenderness. I felt the bigness of her consciousness, embracing every moment of this transition. Judy shared with me how she had no idea what her next chapter would be, but that she was not going to rush into anything. She said she was going to allow this next chapter to unfold as it will. 

Unknown as it is, I feel doubtless that this next chapter in Judy’s life will be rich and full beyond what Judy or any of us can possibly imagine. When anyone is willing to face the challenges of aging, and meet life and death with the kind of openhearted generosity and care that Judy has expressed, both privately with her mother, and publicly with all of us, a deeply positive momentum is generated. With no stone unturned, no words unspoken nor regrets to weigh her down, Judy will be carried by this momentum—with Selma's enduring spirit embedded permanently in her heart. 

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