To Ruth, On Your Birthday – February 25

Your best friends and favorite dresses

parade down the runway of my mind.

I see you, a slim, young teen, surrounded by children

who think you sweet and smart and funny.


Through a tearful scrim,

I imagine you in high school and college,

bubbling with life, striving to excel,

sighing over first love.


But now…

Why can’t I see you now?

Would your face be lined?

Your hair streaked with gray?

Would your children rise up and make you happy?

Your husband praise you?


Last night I tried to see you as a mother,

but you hovered out of sight.

I lay in bed and mourned my child

who never turned fourteen

and won’t appear at forty-eight.


Today you smiled at me through crisp blue sky,

still sweet and smart and funny.

Tonight I huddle in my bed and yearn.

You’re still here:  forever thirteen.

7 Responses to To Ruth, On Your Birthday – February 25

  1. This is really beautiful. I choked up from all the emotion – something I would have done even if I wasn’t related to her. And it is so well written and flows so well. Truly an amazing piece.
    She’s still here and we all recognize that.
    I love you with all my heart. (And I love her)

  2. Ruth’s funeral was the first funeral I ever attended. I was a student at TIUNY when Ruth passed away and I remember the yeshiva attending the service to support your family. I had not had the pleasure to know Ruth or Larry who I believe was a student at the yeshiva at the same time as I was there…1980/81.

    To this day I have never forgot the cloud formations as I looked into the sky during the service trying to imagine or understand where Ruth was and looking for a sign that she was looking down on us. That sadness of the day and the formations in the sky are forever forged into my memory.

    I am glad to have stumbled upon the existence of your book on Amazon in my ongoing search for anything that I can read that ties me to my faith which I no longer practice…but am still very comfortable with.

    I am so sorry for your horrific loss and have never forgotten that day at the cemetery, and truly hope that Hashem has provided you with the strength to enjoy your life.


    Alan Gilman

    • Thank you, Alan. I didn’t know–or remember–that the Yeshivah was at the cemetery in full force. I just remember the February sky pressing down on us as we waited, waited, waited, and my father and I holding each other up. Today — Purim — is the actual yahrzeit since there’s only one Adar this year. Yes, I have found the strength to enjoy my life. Larry and Miriam (I’m sure you didn’t know her, six years younger than Larry who was indeed a TIUNY student when this all happened) have given me great pleasure, including nine grandchildren. But, as you know from my book, the pain is never far from the surface. I hope that you have built a good life for yourself. Thank you for writing.

      • Thank you for your response Ruth. I am truly happy that you have been able to enjoy your life. I have not yet read your book but most certainly plan too.

        Hard to believe that 35 years have passed

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