And You Are Still a Blessing...

Debbie,

Six years.

At this time of year especially, in the quiet of the secular new year, I find myself contemplating your impact on my life. And this year in particular, your absence from the world is especially poignant.

As with all loss, yours is one that washes over us in waves. In the earliest stages of the mourning process, singing your music was so difficult that I stopped singing it altogether. Though the process of reincorporating your compositions into tefillah has become less painful and even therapeutic, there have been moments when the sadness still hits me like a sharp knife cutting into my heart. I am comforted by the knowledge that I am not alone in my loss, and that in the times when I am unable to sing, there are many others whose collective love bring me back to a place of gratitude for your gifts.

The world of contemporary Jewish music continues to expand and deepen. Even my own daughter has become a songwriter (and a good one). You inspired me to write music many, many years ago, and in the past six years since your death I have forced myself to compose and record again. I’ve returned to a place of grappling with Jewish texts after spending several years practically ignoring them. You planted those seeds within me and others, and you planted them deeply. The moments when I am the most vulnerable, the moments in which I feel that “I am but dust and ashes” I am held and comforted not just by your memory. I am blessed to be part of a movement—part of a holy network—of intelligent, creative, committed musicians who are keeping your memory alive in countless ways. I recognize that my closest friends and confidants are people who were directly influenced during your short time on this earth, and that those seeds of inspiration have only started to blossom into the world.

I have not forgotten your voice. I have not forgotten our profound conversations, our moments of outrageous interactions, the poignant moments that we shared in laughter and in tears. I do not take any of those memories for granted. In fact, this past year, a young aspiring Jewish musician looked at me in the middle of a conversation about you and said, “Wait. You actually knew her??” It was the first time I thought about the fact that there will be a whole generation who will arise who will not know the depth of your impact firsthand. And that it is upon us, those of us who you inspired, those of us who loved you, those of us who continue to miss you terribly, to figure out ways—imperfect as they may be—to maintain your legacy and to continue to shine your light forward for generations to come.

On this anniversary of your yartzeit, I offer you my gratitude. Thank you for the blessings that you bestowed upon all of us: for your music, for your wisdom, for your g’vurah when we needed to hear it, for your unending love, and for your immeasurable impact on our community. You continue to be a blessing in a world that is so desperate for blessings. May the seeds that you planted continue to shoot up from the souls of many, and may your memory strengthen us as we go on our way.

Love,
Lisa