Thursday, February 5, 2009

Speech Testimonials

My observations. You-wise, I enjoyed the show. You are such a contagiously wonderful person. I think one of your by-lines, that your show saves lives, is true, in many different senses, with your humour, and in particular the cancer humour & the willingness to 'go there'. In my view, it creates a stronger platform for both cancer sufferer, family member & advocates to heal on different levels. Also on the level of just encouraging people to love & communicate, cancer or no cancer."
"... funny, insightful, thought provoking, informative, moving, and generously personal."
"...poignant and meaningful."
"...deserves to be heard by as broad an audience as possible."
" Lukofsky's skill and energy as a seasoned performer combined with her sincerity, humor and confidence fuel a hilarious, and sometimes shocking but always passionate performance."
"...remarkable balance between hilarity and brutal honesty."
"... a gift to those who are going through this..."
" I have no doubt in my mind that Marla will save lives though she may never met those people."
"...we laughed until our sides ached and we cried until our hearts ached."
" Real is what stands out and appeals to me most about Marla. Just plain real."
" From the moment she took the stage, we were engaged by her always honest, oftentimes funny and heartbreakingly poignant story."
" Your words of advice are those of the universal language of human compassion. "
"The audience was mesmerized!"
"Your courage and bravery astound me. Leaving yourself open, exposing vulnerabilities, baring all. You articulate with grace and panache, your sense of timing impeccable. Your willingness to give so that others may receive. Your talent for helping us to laugh at human foibles. Your ability to see where you've come from and where you are headed. These gifts are not to be taken lightly, not to be squandered. And bravo to you for using them so wisely."
"The impact that your show is having is amazing! You are a great writer/performer and I'm so glad it's reaching out to a wider audience. Your story can teach people the importance of relationships and the impact we can have on each other as patients, health care providers and more."
"Your speech inspired me, and so many people. You spoke from your heart, your funny bone, and your brain. Al and I loved it and have been changed by it."

'The Burial Shroud' by Marla Lukofsky

It was the day of my mother’s funeral, February 12h , 2006. The time was 7:00am. One of my mother’s last requests before she died was that I assist in dressing her in the traditional burial shroud and I agreed to honour her wish. From what I have been told, this deed is a very rare occurrence. I anxiously waited at my apartment for the funeral home to call and tell me when my mother’s body was ready to be dressed.
Once I got the call, I promptly left and drove carefully to Steeles Memorial, a Jewish funeral home in the north end of Toronto. After parking my car, I looked around and there seemed to be no one in sight. All the drapes were closed and the doors were locked. I knocked on the door several times and finally a man opened it asking me to identify myself. “ Yes, who are you and what do you want?” he said rather abruptly.
“ I’m hear to help dress my mother in the burial shroud” I answered softly.
“ Ah yes, you’re the one” the man now solemnly replied. “Come this way.”
I followed him through a maze of hallways and with each turn, I felt my mother’s presence getting closer and closer. If ever there was any truth to the theory that a person leaves behind a spirit or soul once they pass on, I was a believer at that moment.
Finally he brought me to a large metal door. He knocked on it three times. Out popped a woman’s head. She was wearing a kerchief on her hair and a white robe and rubber boots on her person.
“ Yes, what is it?” she asked.
“The woman is here to dress her mother,” he answered.
“ Oh yes, please, please come in. She is ready for you,” she thoughtfully said to me.
I was escorted into the room. This was where they wash and prepare the deceased before burial. It was extremely cold inside and the floor was wet with water. There were two other women in the room who were assisting the woman in charge with the body preparations. They too wore head covering, white robes, and rubber boots on their feet. There was a garbage bin tucked away in the far corner, full of hospital gowns, blankets and other paraphernalia from every medical establishment and home in the city. It was full of the last remains that adorned the bodies that had passed through this room. I recognized many of the colours in the bin since we had gone to several different hospitals during my mother’s 8-month illness.
As the woman guided me to the centre of the cold room, she told me that my mother must have been a very beautiful woman because she is still so very beautiful even now. The other two women quickly agreed. “ Yes, she is a very beautiful woman” they said almost in unison.
These women were right about that. My mother was a natural beauty and retained her looks right up until the end and thereafter.
“ Here she is” said the woman in charge, as she placed me beside the cold wet table where my mother lay. My breath left my body at that moment, not because I was afraid of what I saw but rather because I couldn’t wait to see my mother again and take care of her one last time and that time had now come. There she was, so still, so beautiful. The women stood around quietly as I leaned over to touch my mother’s face and hold her hand. I find that death is the deepest of silence. It is unlike any other silence I have ever heard.
The woman in charge placed a robe around me, told me to say some prayers in Hebrew and we proceeded to place my mother in the burial shroud. I then wrapped the belt around her waist as instructed, all the while reciting the Hebrew words that the woman told me to. I folded the end of the belt three times, hoping that I was doing everything in accordance with the Jewish law. After a few minutes, the shroud was in place and we all carefully moved my mother into her coffin, while I paid extra attention to every movement so that my mother’s body was never bumped or hurt.
“We have to keep going because we have many more to clean up and prepare today,” the woman in charge compassionately told me. “I don’t mean to rush you. I can give you one last moment with your mother and then we must move on.”
I thought to myself, ‘How does one soak up the image and presence of someone you love more than your own life, knowing that you will never ever see them again and you are given only a few minutes to do so.’
I leaned down closely towards my mother’s body, took hold of her hands and placed them on my face so that I could feel her touch, so that I could feel her affection towards me one last time. Then I placed her hands gently back down by her sides and just kept staring at her face, actually hoping that her eyes would open up and we could leave together because this really was just a bad nightmare after all, wasn’t it? I lowered the hood of the shroud so that I could see her face more clearly and gently moved my hand across her bald head and smoothed out her eyebrows, just as I had done so many times before during the last few months of her illness. With the tip of my finger, I stroked the bridge of her distinguished looking nose, traced the outline of her perfectly shaped lips, and finally bent over and placed the most tender of kisses on her mouth and both of her cheeks.
I turned to the woman and resigningly said, “ I’m finished now” even though I wasn’t.
I walked towards the large metal door, took off my robe, and glanced back at my mom one last time, trying to burn an imprint into my mind’s eye of her.
That was the last time I saw my mother.

Marla Lukofsky
February 12, 2008

The Kiss, Your Kiss

Your lips, so full, bodacious bodies,
Fall on mine, though smaller.
Engulfing mine with gentle firmness if that's possible.
A silver lining of moisture coating our mouths
So that they slide ever so softly and easily,
Fluid in motion, lyrical like music, without missing a beat.
I lose myself in your lips, your mouth, and the power of it.
So gentle yet firm.
So impulsive, yet all knowing in what they want to do next as if rehearsed.
Warm like the perfect heat that radiates from a beautiful
fire that's slowly dying down but still has an ongoing flame.
Not too hot, nor harsh, but simply just right.
Sliding, moving, and always connected with feeling,
Like dancers who have been together a long time
and can read each others steps before they take them.
Your lips, your kiss.
When your passion comes thru by way of your lips,
So Warm, So Full, So luscious,
So purposefully knowing of what they want from me,
I lose myself once again.
The sensation is like no other.

Feb. 2, 2009 11:11pm
By: marla lukofsky