It’s a Jewish tradition when someone dies to say, “May his or her memory be for blessing.” The actual honorific is “of blessed memory,” a translation of the Hebrew “zikhrono livrakha” (m.) or “zikhronah livrakha” (f.).
It’s an odd type of statement really. I tend to say, “May his or her memory be a blessing.” My words mean, when you think of the person who has passed on, may the memory bless you. However, I actually think “May his or her memory be for blessing” mean that we are to bless—or that we do bless—the deceased with our memories.
This phrase was on my mind last night and all day today as I thought about Canadian Olympic skater Joannie Rochette, whose mother died just two days before she had to compete last night. Despite her grief, she took to the ice and offered the performance of her life. Although she could have declined to skate, she did so possibly for no other reason than that her mother provided her with a reason to skate in the first place. Joannie didn’t plan to be a figure skater. Her mother encouraged her obvious talent and determination to compete. Rochette became an Olympian for the first time in Turin four years ago, where she finished fifth.
As I watched Joannie skate—and as I watched her teary eyed father watching her proudly as he sat alone instead of with his wife—I knew each of them held in their minds such strong memories and thoughts of Therese Rochette. And with each thought, with each memory, they bless her…and her memory blessed them. In a packed stadium in Vancouver, Joannie’s performance surely blessed her mother’s soul with each movement—and, based on how well she skated, surely her mother’s soul blessed her.
Who do you know who has died? Imagine that you bless them and they bless you each time you think of them or recall a happy time with them. Our memories truly are blessed. They keep the people who have passed on close to us always. By simply closing our eyes and recalling time together, once again we can feel their love and enjoy their company. That truly is a blessing.
If you want to watch Joannie’s performance from last night, click here.
For more information about Joannie and her personal-best performance, read my Examiner column.