Sisterhood Blog

A Mother's Meditation on the Pleasure of Solitude

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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I am enjoying the ultimate luxury vacation. Am I in a villa on the mountainous shores of Lake Como? No. Wading into startlingly clear turquoise waters in the Caribbean? Nope. In a south Tel Aviv boutique hotel in newly hip Neve Tzedek? I wish.

I am simply… in my house… quiet and alone. My husband and Boychik are off camping, and Girlchik and Rockerchik are away at overnight camp for the month. The lead-up to their departures was frenetic weeks of shopping, packing, organizing, entertaining, cooking and baking, and then some more shopping and packing.

Not only did my children conclude what was, for each of them, a good school year, Boychik graduated from high school, with a graduation party a day earlier. Because a couple of friends couldn’t make it at the last minute and I am neurotic, I was convinced that no one would actually show up to the party. But dozens did come in the end, and it was wonderful. A few weeks earlier I accompanied Boychik to Los Angeles, where he participated in a national opera competition (in which he was a finalist). That came on the heels of sitting shiva for my father, which followed his funeral, death and the last months of his illness. It was an emotionally and physically draining few months.

Nearly as soon as I packed the girls into the camp van, the grief rose up. It kept me up at night. I cried frequently and was constantly trying to push out of my mind awful thoughts of my father in the ground. It was as if as soon as I had time to take a breath, as soon as all of the hecticity of taking care of everyone else’s needs receded, the grief surged forward.

Grief, like love, isn’t a straight line of constancy, I know. It will surge up again. I still don’t feel totally recovered from the loss of my mother. And it has been nearly 10 years since she died. But for the moment there is a lull in the storm of sadness.

And the house is quiet. I hear the murmur of traffic through our front door; I hear the wind blowing through the trees in our back yard. I am meeting a friend for dinner. And I am loving the ability to do just one thing at a time. I feel my equilibrium starting to return.

While my family will be home soon enough, and space to reflect will get flattened under the whirl of everyone else’s needs, I am loving this moment.

Because the house is quiet. And I have only my own needs to take care of.


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