The Jews are good at this. The candle-lighting and yarmulke-wearing and mezuzah-touching, all the remembering through ritual and ceremony. Tangible stuff full of meaning.

I get that.

I like to have things around me, things I can see and touch and by which I can remember. It’s why I have a tiny toy puppy sitting on a shelf in my bathroom, and it’s why I have pictures of my children on my fridge, and it’s why I write words. The turning of thought or memory or love into a thing makes remembering real(er) for me.

I’m reminded, by what I can see and touch, of what I can’t see or touch. I’m reminded to pray.

And that is why that boy of mine, when he left home, left something for his mother. He took the guitar pick he’d made, all beautiful-grained wood and smoothly sanded by his hand, and he drilled it. A hole right through it, and he gave it to me to wear around my neck, my mezuzah of sorts.


I hung it on the chain with my beautiful blue heart from my beautiful friend, and when I touch it I think of him, and I pray my own mezuzah prayer over him.

Be with him, Lord, with his going in and his coming out.

It’s what we mothers do. All the time we are carrying and birthing and raising. We wait and we pray and we remember. And whenever we can, we touch.

It’s the season of Advent, the season of remembered expectancy, of remembering the waiting. It’s also a season of leaving.

I’ve been thinking about that, this Advent. I’ve been wondering why leaving is such a big part of the story? Why Mary had to say goodbye and endure that long trip and face that birth without her mother?

Mary is often on my mind, these weeks, and I wonder at her pregnant thoughts, her waiting time. Young girl, full of child, leaving home. Did she tuck in a trinket from home when she left? Did she carry with her more than memory on that long journey? Did she snip a lock of loved one’s hair, or did she carry precious memory from her mother’s kitchen?

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

I would have.