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February 23, 1996 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-02-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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"My pain is unfortunate," Mrs. learned not to cling to everything
Jennifer ever touched. She has
Mellen says. But it's bearable.
Two years after Jennifer's kept certain pajamas (and sleeps
death, the Mellens' son, Zachary, in some of Jennifer's favorite T-
who bears a remarkable resem- shirts). She has stuffed animals
blance to the sister he will nev- and her daughter's prom dress.
er know, was born. "It was so But much of the rest of it is no
important for me," Mrs. Mellen longer sacred. Instead, it is Jen-
explains. "I couldn't take the nifer's life that her mother holds
thought of being childless. I know dear. Of course, some days will
simply be terrible and that's it.
what I do best is loving."
Not that Zach is in any way a Jennifer's birthday is hard, Mrs.
"replacement" for Jennifer, she Mellen says. And the day she
adds. He is his own person. His died — grief then can be inde-
colorful drawings and art projects scribable.
are pinned up on the
walls and held with
magnets to the refriger-
ator. His toys — slides,
trains, stuffed animals
— are everywhere. "He
is my joy," Mrs. Mellen
says.
He also is her
strongest link to life.
Running down the hall
as he wakes from his
nap, Zach jumps
straight into his moth-
er's arms. She holds him
tightly.
"If I could, I still
wouldn't trade places
with anyone," she says.
"My life has been in-
tense and passionate,
with a lot of pain but
also many high points,
and a huge part of that
had to do with Jennifer. She understands now that the book was therapy,
"Everyone has sad- "but while I was writing it, it was nothing but pain."
ness, but I feel very
Not long after Jennifer passed
loved, and I'm lucky for that. I
had a happy childhood, a grand- away, the Mellens commissioned
mother who helped raise and artist David Barr to create a
adored me, and the most intense sculpture to memorialize their
daughter. It sits in the back yard,
love from Jennifer.
"When my grandmother died a burst of wild color in a field of
(last December), I asked the rabbi snow white.
The sculpture consists of pink,
to read one of Jennifer's poems at
the funeral. It was very hard, but white and green tubes, inter-
I felt it was the right thing to do." twined, like two hands with fin-
Isn't it unusual, she says, "the gers outstretched. At first the
way everything is related, as tubes were empty, then Mrs.
though there is a kind of circle Mellen filled them with notes and
around me. Jennifer can be dead, small treasures from Jennifer's
life. Finally, they were sealed.
but she's still in that circle."
Most visitors likely see the
Today, physical memories of
Jennifer remain throughout the sculpture as just that — a piece
Mellen home. Photographs show of art, a collection of metal, a
a tiny, dark-haired girl in pigtails, splash of color.
But Barbara Mellen sees
eating vanilla ice cream; a smil-
ing girl by a sailboat; a young much, much more. Her hands
woman standing protectively across her chest, she stands at
over her mother. This last picture the window and gazes out into
was taken not long before Jen- the lake, to the trees, and finally
at the sculpture.
nifer's death.
"When I look at this, I can see
At first, Mrs. Mellen says, she
could not even bear to have cer- Jennifer as a little girl in her
tain items of Jennifer's moved. tutu," she says. "I can see her
The last pair of shoes she wore dancing, reaching and growing.
"And do you see the green?"
remained, for more than six
months, exactly as Jennifer had she says. "It's not just a color —
not to me. When I see that green,
left them.
Gradually, though, she has I see life." ❑

"THE BATTLE FOR JERUSALEM HAS BEGUN"
Said HANAN ASHRAWI while running for election to the Palestinian
Council.

The Battle for Jerusalem has indeed begun and the United Nations
has given PLO's claim to Jerusalem a ringing endorsement. In a 133
to 1 vote, the General Assembly declared "The decision of Israel to
impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City of
Jerusalem is illegal and null and void'

Israel stood alone in voting against the resolution; the United States
abstained.

U.S. ABSTENTION VIOLATES THE PRESIDENT'S AND CONGRESS'
PLEDGES ON JERUSALEM.
WRITE OR PHONE PRESIDENT CLINTON (202-456-1414)
EXPRESSING YOUR INDIGNATION.

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