Marianne Novak

Dear Batsheva zl – Five Years Later

Batsheva Stadlan zl (center) at her 2016 graduation from Ida Crown Jewish Academy

Today , the 25th of Nissan marks the fifth Yahrzeit of my dear daughter, Batsheva Chaya Stadlan zl , בתשבע חיה בת נועם יגאל ורנה

While her absence is profoundly felt, complicated by her death by suicide, this Yahrzeit has allowed me to focus on the life she led in this world and the life she now leads in the next.

Dear Batsheva zl,

Five years.
It feels like an eternity.
It feels like an instant.

But filled with so many moments in between.

I talk to you, dear Batsheva , Zichrona Livracha, all the time.

I try to bring you up to date on what’s happening down here.

From the joyous— your brother and sister graduating, to friends’ weddings and engagements.

To the mundane— such as the decor changes in our household or an outfit or shoe that I think you’d like.

I’ve tried to convey to you what it has been like for us specifically these past two years- something very few if none of us could have imagined.

It was so hard to talk to you in the beginning because it was so hard to get past your death, the way you died.

And while I carry that grief with me always, I can now focus on the life you led here with us and the life you lead now.

So please indulge me as I briefly rattle off some memories of your sparkly beautiful life that I thought about today.

-At around age 5 or 6, we were flying to Florida and you watched the movie ‘Lilo and Stitch’ going there in English and on the way back in Spanish (but you didn’t speak Spanish).

-How you kept your room spotless with nary one of your twenty pillows on your bed out of place.

– You made the best Whoopee Pies and the best matzah lasagna whose recipe notes your brother Hillel followed this Yom Tov (and it turned out great).

– When you played Soccer, we called you the ‘red menace’ because of your drive and determination and beautiful red hair.

– When I caught your supportive ‘Go Mom’ eye when you sat in the studio audience when I was on Jeopardy.

– When we went to see Adele and got stuck in the parking lot for over an hour trying to go home.

– When we would go grocery shopping after Mrs Posner’s pre-school and you would hug every item saying it was your favorite before putting it into the cart.

– In High School, asking me every morning what the weather was going to be even though you could easily have found out yourself

– And all in all, your true kindness and beauty.

Today , I will tell you, Batsheva, of the incredible love so many are sending your way.

And in these past very difficult years, I’ll tell you that I have been more able to feel the love that you send my way.

Because I didn’t stop being your Mommy five years ago, in that instant. Our relationship just became different.

תהה נשמתה צרורה בצרור החיים

May your new life, Batsheva, be as sparkly as the one you had with us and shine on us and continue to inspire us.


If you are suffering from Mental Illness or Suicide Ideation there are a number of organizations to offer you assistance:

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
NEDA- National Eating Disorders Association
NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness
Maglei Nefesh-

About the Author
Rabbi Marianne Novak recently received Semikha from Yeshivat Maharat. She lives in Skokie, IL with her husband Noam Stadlan. She is an educator for the Melton Adult Education Program and a Gabbait for the Skokie Women's Tefillah Group. She recently joined the Judaic studies faculty at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago, IL.
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