Ariella to Roneet: A Daughter’s Tribute – A Mother’s Love

Roneet Ariella

“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.” – Dante Alighieri, The Inferno.

The connection between a mother and daughter is visceral and, even at times, violent in its sheer passion. These past few days I have gotten to understand my mother as a friend, a lover, an artist, an aide, through the sorrow of all of you. But let me put those titles aside and tell you about what you already know, that she gave up everything she could just to be one thing: my mother, and Jacob’s.

Ariella Roneet

My mom always spoke of my early years with a swelling pride, tears in her voice. She never, never put me down. My birth was so easy she could have thrown a party, and when all the other mothers gave away their babies to the nurse, she held me in her arms and wouldn’t let go. When I think of my earliest years, I feel enveloped in her warmth and her white glow. It was so rare for us not to be hand-in-hand: me, the curly-haired little sidekick; she, the most stunning, stylish woman in any occasion.

Ariella Roneet

I remember bragging that my mom was my best friend. She would shake her head.

“I’m not your friend, Ariella,” she said, “I’m your mom. That’s different.”

At the time I couldn’t understand: why didn’t she want to be my friend? It took some time to comprehend, but she knew well before me that being a mother is something holy, and to be holy is to be distinct. As you can all see from the crowd assembled here, Mom was never against making friends. But I am not her friend: I am of her, from her. I am her daughter.

Ariella Roneet Kinky Boots

And I wish you could all know what it was like to be Roneet’s daughter. So many movies, so much singing during long car rides. She was the Kiki Dee to my Elton John when we would perform our rousing rendition of “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” We sat at every play and musical with hands clasped and eyes watering. We talked about the days we would live in a penthouse in New York, where we would hold spontaneous dance parties and I would be married to Timothée Chalamet – who she very much supported as husband material – and she would teach me how to raise my children. She would bathe them in the sink like my Safta bathed me. When we passed through Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus or any of her domains, I would have to physically restrain her from buying everything in sight. “That’s your Oscar dress,” she would say. It was never a question that she would be my date on my first red carpet event, because it was never a question to her that there would be a red carpet event to go to.

Ariella Roneet

I’m not going to lie to any of you – you who by virtue of being here are all my family. It wasn’t always easy. Her love often manifested in an obsessive force that could stagger me backwards. I often felt an uncontrollable anxiety about meeting her seemingly endless expectations. I did not know what I know now. To be able to scold someone, you must have a great respect for them. You must be able to see them as they can be, even when they cannot. She always wanted more for me than I could ever want for myself.

But, Mom, I’m speaking to you now. Show me the way, because I am lost without you. If I had known how finite our time together would be, would I have done anything differently? And it takes me to the depths of my soul, but I can tell you I would not. Because although we fought like feral cats, we would say “I love you” a dozen times during each phone call. When I was suffering from depression in high school, you were the one whose bed I would crawl into, you were the one whose hugs sustained me. You told me I was so special and beautiful – the mirror to a self I could not even yet see. The only thing I wish I had done more was tell you how breathtakingly beautiful you are. In all the pictures I see of you, your joy floods out of two dimensions.

I cannot see you as not here: in the absence of a physical form, your spirit takes to no borders. You will become more than a memory: you will be a concept, a mantra, a muse, for you are the love that moves the sun and stars. And when I have a child I will never let her down. And when I write I will write to you. How I wish to God you were still here to see what I’m going to do, because if you thought it was going to be meaningful before, you have no idea what it’s going to be like now. I have no idea.

I will never understand why I had to lose my mother without even a warning. I am sick. She knew better than anyone: life is cruel and absurd, but in the wood the animals writhe and the flowers bloom even when we are too in the dark to see. I can hear the music of her voice still, telling me don’t cry, wash your face, take a shower. There is still so much time to dance. In our last phone call I asked her how one gets over pain, and she said, “I don’t know, people survive all sorts of things.”

Mom gave me my name for a reason. I am a lion*, and she is my song**. Whoever sees me will know I will never be without her. And you should know, Mom, that because I am so broken I am also open. Enfold me in your love; make me a part of the whole of the universe, and I will be able to sleep again knowing that when I see you, you will hold my face in your hands and call me your darling.

I love you so much. Thank you and God bless you.

*Ariella means Lion Of God.

**Roneet means Song.


19 comments on “Ariella to Roneet: A Daughter’s Tribute – A Mother’s Love
  1. Ellyn Snowden says:

    I knew your mom at Nordstrom, she was a beautiful, kind, hard working woman who I admired so much. I am shocked to hear of her passing and reading your words have brought tears and pain and I can only say I offer my deepest condolences to you and your beautiful family…Never forget your mom’s spirit and love will be with you always guiding you throughout your life…God bless you all…

  2. Susan Rayshell says:

    Incredibly beautiful and equally heart-wrenching. Oh that all mothers and daughters could have a relationship such as that shared by Ariella and Roneet.

  3. Bill Hoban says:

    I am struck by the eloquence of your sorrow and pray that you find peace. Bill Hoban

  4. Irene Jones says:

    Such a breathtakingly lovely tribute, Ariella! Thank you for sharing it with us. May your memories of your mother give you comfort and joy.

  5. Doug says:

    Powerful. Beautiful. Wishing everyone the best in managing a tragic situation.

  6. Brad Howes says:

    Ariella,

    Your tribute to your mother touched me. I pray for you and your family. God bless each of you.

    Regards,
    Brad

  7. Melissa Tryan says:

    So moving Ariella. Thank you for sharing

  8. Katie Schane says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Ariella.

  9. Janis Cowey says:

    Ariella,
    Your Mother would be so proud of you and this beautiful tribute to her. Her presence and love will always surround you and be with you. Prayers for your heart and mind through the this loss.

  10. Debra Buck says:

    Ariella,

    in this moment as you feel sadness, remember that death may have taken your beautiful mother but it can’t take your memories of her. Those are yours to keep.

  11. Chrissy (Herrera) Mariluch says:

    Ariella,
    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful person. I was good friends with your mom
    In junior high being in cheer and through high school rop classes and such. I last saw her about seven years ago but had thought a lot about her right before her passing. My mom ran into her and Barbara at Shoshana’s and said what beautiful, sweet women they had grown to be. I’m so very sorry for your loss of your mother. May god keep your faith and family strong. My love and prayers go out to all of you.

  12. Paige says:

    So Beautiful and so special. God Bless

  13. Edie Tobias says:

    Arielle,

    Like you, I lost my mother suddenly and far too young. I know your heartache. She is always with you now. In time, you will understand this. May you find strength in your beautiful memories of her, for they cannot be taken away.

  14. Tami Ferrando says:

    So beautiful Ariella. As you know, your mom was an amazing mother, sister, wife and friend. She was also a smart, caring and supportive boss. She was my Merchandise Manager at Nordstrom. I have such fond memories of her pushing me to be better as a buyer. But also, caring about me and my family personally.
    I’m praying you find comfort in knowing how many lives she touched

  15. Dawn says:

    I have no words … darling Ariella. As always, you have found a way to put words to something most of us can’t describe. I can not wait to see all you are going to accomplish. I can’t wait to see what dress you pick for the Oscars. I can’t wait to celebrate all of the special events in your life as we carry her on our shoulders and deeply in our hearts. She was so extraordinarily proud of you! You were a very lucky girl to have her as a mother as she was a very lucky mother to have you as her daughter. I love you dearly and am so sorry for your pain and irreplaceable loss! ❤️❤️ Always here for you.

  16. Pina Gaetano Mudge says:

    What a beautiful tribute Arielle. May Jesus wrap his tight warm embrace around all of you.

  17. Edna, Yigal and family says:

    Dearest Arella, time and again we have read your heartbreaking message to your beloved mother. Such an impressive saying on mother-daughter so meaningful interactions.. It seems that you didn’t lose your way: with such remarkable memories, messages, dreams and advices , your way is clear, enlighted and leading you to a great future ! Love and hugs

  18. Sheri Liebert says:

    Ariella this is so beautiful. Your mothers love and spirit will continue to guide you. Your relationship with her was so special and your words describe it so beautifully. My thoughts and prayers are always with you and your family ❤️

  19. Jennifer Levine says:

    Ariella,
    Such beautiful words. Ben told me how remarkable and special your mom was. Apples rarely fall far from trees. You both were so lucky to be a part of each other.

    Wishing you continued strength and comfort so that you can always do what your mother wanted most for you … find time to dance.

    ~ Jennifer Levine ~

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