I was sure that there would never be sun in my life again. I would never feel happy
hen I went to sleep that night, the new reality hit me in a wave of grief. I realized that I didn’t have a home anymore. During the week of shivah, my brother Yehudah would be here. But what would happen afterwards? I couldn’t live on my own. I thought that the tears had dried up. But I was wrong. As I lay down on my bed, the tears came pouring out of my eyes, soaking my pillow and blanket. I was hurting so badly. I felt a huge hole in my heart. And I wanted to talk to Mommy about it. But Mommy wasn’t there. I couldn’t talk to her. Not about this or anything. Never again.
I guess I fell asleep because I opened my eyes to the sun shining into my bedroom.
I couldn’t believe that the sun could shine on such a horrible day, the first full day of shivah and the second day without Mommy. I was sure that there would never be sun in my life again. I would never feel happy. Oh, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, why did you leave me?
I sat on that low stool the whole week. Friends, neighbors, classmates, rabbanim, and teachers came and went. I think the whole community came.
I had heard from people that sitting shivah is a pressure. They felt a responsibility to make sure that each person felt comfortable and had a place to sit. I guess I am not such a kind person. Because I didn’t care. I didn’t want to talk or listen. I didn’t want to hear people’s expressions of sympathy or words of chizuk. The pain was too great, the hole too big, and the depth of pain too deep to listen to all these people who were going to walk out of my house back to their very fine lives.
I was afraid of what my new living arrangements would be. I was too afraid to bring up the topic. So I sat there, just staring. Not talking and hardly listening.
It was only at night after the last visitor left and we were able to lock the door that I perked up a little bit and was able to talk about the day with my brothers and sisters-in-law. We also talked about memories. We cried and laughed and felt connected. I knew that I had a family. We loved each other. We cared about each other. Maybe things would be okay?
My father called to be menachem avel on the last day of shivah. A quick, obligatory phone call. That was all.
After shivah was over, I kind of felt like I was invisible. I didn’t really matter.
No one asked me what I wanted. Decisions were made without my input and I was expected to go along.
Yehudah rented out his apartment in Eretz Yisrael so he and his family could come live in my house. I was definitely relieved about that.
But when they started talking about which bedrooms they would use or what to do with my mother’s stuff, I wished they would have asked me if I had an opinion, because I did have one. But I didn’t feel like I could express it without being asked. I felt like I had to go along with whatever anyone said, because it was proper hakaras hatov to whomever was helping me.
I didn’t go to school the day I got up from shivah, but that night Yehuda and Baila told me that I should go back the next day. They were right. I was even planning on it. But why couldn’t they ask me instead of telling me? It made me feel so down.
Whatever. It didn’t really matter. Mommy died. Nothing mattered anymore.
I really appreciated the call from Malki that night. It probably took a lot of courage for her to call, especially since I wasn’t that talkative during shivah.
We spoke for a long time. I updated her on my living situation and we spoke about my mother. I told her that each time I think the tears are finally dried up, something new triggers a whole fresh wave.
She asked me if I needed anything before coming back to school tomorrow. I told her that I felt awkward walking in.
We made up that we would walk in together and I would make a casual comment about being back. Hopefully that would break the ice. I felt really lucky to have such a good friend. It was a gift from Hashem. And I needed to start finding the gifts from Him because right about then I felt like I had the most awful life in the world.
School — ready or not, here I come.
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 923)
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