I Raise My Glass to Family. And To My Mom.

11 years ago today my mom died. It was her second bout with cancer, after having been in remission. I'm taking the day off to cook the foods of my childhood and fill the house with the smells I so deeply miss. More than anything, it is food that reminds me of my mom. Probably because food was something that marked everything in the life of my family, from "ordinary" daily meals to weekly Sunday extravaganzas, to special occasions, from weddings to funerals. We used to joke: "I'm happy - let's eat!" "I'm sad - let's eat!"

It was a time when our family gathered every night for dinner. When the extended family gathered every weekend for picnics or BBQ's or the richness of a middle eastern feast. We talked. We laughed. There was, and still is, something extraordinary about sharing a meal with family, be it our blood relatives or our chosen family.

The Path2Parenthood staff has been wrestling with the fact that this organization, in the natural course of its evolution, has expanded to encompass so much more than infertility: young women and young men seeking information to protect their reproductive health, gays and lesbians yearning for family, and as you'll see in the year ahead, celebrating those who have moved through their family building journeys and who have personal stories to share. Stories about their children and the milestones they're experiencing that only a short time ago may have seemed like far-off dreams.

We are, above all, about creating family. So this morning I raise my glass to family in all its diverse and wonderful forms, to everyone who hopes for a family of their own one day, to all those committed to helping make those hopes a reality, and on this most sacred day for me, to my mom. What follows is a summary of the words I spoke at her funeral 11 years ago. May she forever rest in peace.

"If you want to know the difference that someone made during her life, look at what shows up at her death. Lillian was the living embodiment of love and grace, dignity and respect, joy and abundance. People who hadn't seen her in 20 or 30 years told us that they had to attend the funeral to let us know the positive impact she had on them.

Lillian had a passion for life, a love of good food and music, and above all, a love of community. The most significant community in her life was her family, and her most cherished moments were when we were all together. Friends who joined us for dinner said that they always felt like family in Lillian's presence. Perhaps that was because she understood how much people needed to be a part of something greater than themselves.

Lillian's life was a continual prayer of thanksgiving, acknowledging the ongoing blessings of God that she enjoyed. She was a contribution to everyone she met, never once feeling sorry for herself, even in dealing with cancer for 18 years. We were privileged to have shared our lives with her. So, to Lillian, for whom work was love, and whose work was always connected to The Great Work of the Universe; to Lillian, whose work began on February 23rd, 1930, and whose work was complete on February 5th 1999 at 6:45 p.m. - Thank you, Mom. We love you."

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