There was no drama. It was simply time
Her children all knew the way she wanted to go.
She always said she wanted to go like her zeides went in der heim.
Back in Vilchovitz, both of her zeides passed on at her parents’ home when she was still a girl. She remembered it well. There were no sirens, no beeping, no sense of calamity. There was peace as each neshamah passed on to the next stage of their journeys. She wanted that, too.
Her father’s father, our Zeide Yankev Avraham, simply knew it was time. He handed his son Nachman a list of ten names of people he knew from the shtetl (or perhaps nine, if Nachman served as the tenth, some details have been lost to time), along with the request that he please collect them all. They’d form the minyan, he said.
It was a strange request, but Nachman set out to find the men on the list, without the “But why?” this generation is so fond of.
One of the men on the list did argue. “I’m just coming from visiting your father,” he said. “He looked perfectly healthy!”
Nachman shrugged. “Der Tatte asked,” he said, “so please, come.”
Zeide Yankev Avraham was in bed when the ten men arrived. He asked for a glass of water, made a shehakol and drank. Then he said Krias Shema, turned to face the wall, and after a few moments, he slipped away.
There was no drama. It was simply time.
The next generation passed away in an inferno. Our calendars are marked with clusters of yahrtzeits, the multiple names filling each box a frightening reminder that these were no natural deaths.
This was the inferno my Babi lived through, her body and soul just about intact enough to give birth to the next generation. Is there any wonder she had no desire for another struggle at the end of her journey? She yearned for the days of peace, of uninterrupted life cycles, of before.
Then it was time.
Her body was weakening, and she was nearly ready to go. She insisted she wanted no hospitals. No pipes, no trach, no heavy intervention. And she desired this with such intensity, her neshamah listened.
One day, in the home of her youngest son and his darling wife, she simply slipped away. Her second eldest son was at her bedside, learning with the soft singsong of generations, and the transition was so smooth, so peaceful, he didn’t even notice. Only a daughter-in-law, who entered the room some time later, noticed something was wrong.
They immediately called Babi’s youngest son, who checked on his mother — and realized she was no longer with them. She’d said brachos in the morning, had seemed at peace all day, and she’d slipped away with the song of our Sages.
Hatzalah came, but as per psak of a rav, they didn’t attempt to revive her. She’d gone the way she wanted, with neither needles in her arms nor machines attached to her body tethering her to life.
She was free to slip away, and she did.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 776)
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