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Onwards and Upwards

Symie Liff

The last few months of my mother’s life, I constantly worried about her death. What would it be like? Would she suffer? Or would she die peacefully in her sleep, as I requested daily in my prayers? Would I be with her? Would she be alone? Would it be too painful for my children to watch? And what of Ofelia, her dedicated caretaker of ten years? Would she be able to handle it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The past two months my mom had been sharply
declining. Her health was failing, she was dehydrated, she couldn’t eat solids,
hardly had strength to talk, and was frailer by the day.

Then one morning, exactly
five weeks before her death, Ofelia told me that my mom had been calling out in
the night, “Momma, Papa, Momma, Papa,” many times. It is brought down that
before people leave This World, they are invited to join their loved ones

“Bubby’s journey to the Next
World has begun,” I told my family. “Her neshamah is moving upwards, and
our job is to make her journey as peaceful as possible.”

Over the next four weeks,
there were many more such moments, as she called to her parents, her brothers
Shmaye and Yumi, and her sister Chai, as well as to her beloved “Joe” (my
father, Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky ztz”l).

On one occasion, she told me,
“I’m dying, help me!” I asked her if she wanted to die and she screamed, “No!”
I quickly replied, “Okay, Mom, you promised me you were going to live to greet
Mashiach and to dance at my girls’ weddings, so let’s go!”

One morning while sitting
next to her, as she rested in her comfy blue chair, she looked up and said to
me, “Look who’s here.” Afraid to look up, I cautiously asked, “Who is it?” She
repeated the statement, and then gestured upwards and said, “I’m not ready

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