Two things have been going on this week. One is that I’ve been digitizing an old cassette tape of a production of Fiddler on the Roof from High School. The other is that my mother has been slowly dying, finally passing away on Sunday.
Nostalgia and grief make a pretty somber combination. Yet the two seemingly unrelated things combined for me in a surprising way. There’s a scene in Fiddler where a daughter explains to her father in song that though she loves her home, she must travel to Siberia to join the man she is to marry. It’s a soft haunting melody. The school mate that sang it did a fantastic job. Even when I was sixteen, it was all I could do not to cry when I heard her.
Though the song has nothing to do with death, it’s been stuck in my head since my mother’s passing. I’d assumed that it was there because I was sad, and the song fit my mood.
Then it occurred to me. Like the character, Hodel, my mother has taken a journey far from the home she loves. Though she goes to join my father and other loved ones she’s missed, she longs to help us understand why she does what she does. She knows and shares the sadness we feel, but she has to go on to life that, for a time doesn’t include us.
The image of my mother singing “Far From the Home I Love” has brought me comfort and perspective as I hope it will for some of you who are missing those that have made the same journey.