Breastfeeding Stories: Life, Death and Nourishment
by Reiza at Off The Spaceship
On the first anniversary of my brother's death, I nursed my daughter while praying and I will be eternally grateful for that experience.
My brother was given six months to live. He never made it that far. Cancer stole him from us the day we found out we were pregnant with twins.
In the Jewish tradition, you recite the Mourner's Kaddish on the anniversary of the death of a loved one (the yarzeit). This, however, can only be done with a minyan. You cannot stay home to pray. Kaddish must be said within a community of Jews.
So, I struggled to sit through services with two tiny babies, but without my husband (the military sent him away for training). Just before Kaddish was said, Girl1 got fussy. My initial reaction was, "Why now of all times?" I was annoyed, sad and overwhelmed, but my baby needed me. She helped pull me out of my misery and forced me to focus not only on what I lost, but on the remaining blessings I held in my hands, literally and figuratively. When it was time to stand for Kaddish, she was still nursing. I stood, clutching my daughter, and prayed.
While reciting those words for my brother, I stared into that tiny face of the child he never even knew existed. He was gone. Nothing could change that. Yet, while mourning that loss, I was effortlessly nourishing this new soul. It was such a simple moment, yet so profound. I was reminded that the world continued. Yes, there was death and destruction to be feared, but there was also love, beauty, and sacred simplicity to be cherished.
Breastfeeding does so much more than simply nourish my child. In that moment (and in others since then), breastfeeding fed my soul.
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