I have not lit the candles for the Shabbat or for the Jewish holidays since my pacemaker operation nine months ago.

I have lived alone since my husband died more than three years ago. After the operation, I was unable to moveI am going to light Shabbat candles tonight my left arm enough to feel comfortable lighting the match. I was afraid of dropping the match and causing a fire—or so I told myself. But I am going to light the Shabbat candles tonight.

There in the dining room is my husband’s empty chair. He always said the blessings over the wine and challahs. After dinner, if I was tired, he prayed and stayed at the table until the candles finished their glowing light.

The emptiness of being alone was a big part of my decision of not wanting to light the candles.

This morning I realized that I hadn’t lit candles for the last nine months. I still hope for good things for me and my family. How my family needs my prayers.

I clear the table, change the tablecloth, and then set the table for one in my usual seat.

I take the candle sticks, clean them until they sparkle and then set them down into the holders. I place the matches nearby so that everything will be ready.

I remember the rabbi saying, “G‑d pays attention to a woman’s prayers when she lights candles, covers her eyes, and prays before the Shabbat.”

While being wheeled into the operating room for my pacemaker operation, I thought of the many people who told me they would pray for me. I believe that all those prayers helped keep me strong for the surgery.

It took me three matches to get the first candle lit. Then I lit three candles, as was my custom: one for me, one for my husband, and the third for my children and grandchildren.

Mom always lit two candles. Her Mom, my Bubby Annie, lit five for her children, in addition to the two for herself and my grandfather. Bubby Malka, my great-grandmother, lit many candles. If Mom drove me to Bubby Malka’s house to deliver food or something else she needed for the Shabbat, each time I noticed a different number of candles ready to be lit on her Shabbat table depending on how many yahrzeits she was remembering.

This morning I decide to make a chicken soup as my mother used to make, even though the chicken now comes cut up in a cellophane wrapper already koshered.

I remember Mom buying the chicken every Thursday at the butcher shop, and how the butcher brought it out from the back for her to see. He wrapped it along with the liver in white paper and then brown paper.

On Friday morning, Mom would kosher the chicken. While it was being koshered, she would broil the chicken liver and let me cut up vegetables to put into the soup.

She made stuffing to put in the neck, which also went into theOn Friday morning, Mom would kosher the chicken soup. Then there were the chicken feet, which needed the skin removed. I never got a chance to eat the feet, but I watched Mom scrape off the skin.

Mom added the vegetables and made noodles so there would be a whole meal for the five of us. Only my Dad got to eat the stuffed neck or helzel, and the feet.

So this Friday, after I lit the candles, I circled my hands three times around the candles. I covered my eyes saying the blessings and then I prayed for my family, who needs prayers, and for all of my friends who need prayers. I prayed: G‑d give me and everyone I love the strength to carry on.

I then sat down and said the blessing over grape juice and two rolls before I ate my small dinner of chicken soup.

Later, I sat down in the living room and watched the candles glow with a light that seemed to come from all of my ancestors. How much brighter the room looked!

How I had missed lighting the candles—a tradition passed on to me by my mother and by all the other mothers before her. As I sat there watching the candles burn, I felt a spark.

I was at peace.