The more I considered the Yizkor candle settings I was creating the more I began to focus on life. To be honest, I wasn't getting much pleasure out of focusing on death, grief and the initial moments of being torn apart.
There needs to be incorporated, not initially perhaps but down the line, a sweetness of remembrance that evokes the stories of connection - the living part of a relationship that doesn't cease when one side of the bond steps over the boundary of physical existence.
When my father died, even decades later, people would find out that I was his daughter spontaneously tell me their most beloved stories about the life he shared with them. I searched out his desk after he died and found a whole page of sayings that he had assembled like "An atheist is a man with no invisible means of support." Of course I've updated that one to be somewhat more inclusive but continue to delight in having one in my back pocket.
I have my mother's recipe for Passover popovers, the seeds from a Cinderella pumpkin that my beloved buddy Yoanna brought back to me from a roadside farm stand in New Mexico, the silk robe of my dear friend and mentor Jacob Goldberg, z"l , falling apart after all these years. Legacies. Stories. Love tokens.
A woman named Wendy Rosen, whose husband died four years ago, told me recently that she's come to the conclusion that what really matters after someone has passed can easily fit into a small box. I was bewildered at first, but the more I thought of it the more joy it gave me. I started to make a list of the sorts of things of real significance I could fit into a small box. Here are some of the things I came up with, though each person I have loved would have chachkis included that would be particular to themselves:
- tickets from a ball game or Broadway musical which we attended together
- a snippet of fabric from a favorite dress or old tee shirt
- a favorite recipe
- some idea or thought written on a paper napkin
- a word or phrase from a magical moment that would bring it all back
- a dried flower from a garden; a seed
- stories written on a sheet of paper and folded small from those who were compatriots
I'd love to hear what you'd add to this list and the story that goes with it.
As you can tell from the top image, I have redesigned the Yizkor candle settings to include a box - a Living Memory Yizkor box. I changed out the base as well and am making it from aromatic cedar, which in many cultures is identified with the Tree of Life. With the help of a 1/2" square of plywood wrapped in copper foil it now serves as the lid for the memory box. I also updated two of the copper backplates to include the word "L'Chayim" - "to Life."
I realized that the added advantage of the plain box with a 4"x5" space is that there is now room for some personalization which couldn't happen on the copper backplate due to the height of the candle. I'm not thinking of a whole megillah - call it 3 words: "My Beloved David", "Grandma's Memory Box"... Something simple, like the things inside. Whatever the phrase, I can write it on the front with a copper ink pen in Celtic style lettering.
I've finally gotten these as well as the Tikkun Olam settings up on my Etsy store: Moresca Since they work so beautifully on their own, I'm also offering just the lids of the boxes as candle settings.
I've changed the base of Tikkun settings over to aromatic cedar as well:
Ritual Well will be having all of the above available in their shop as well. I'll be sending them the updates today.