| LifeTakes |

The Golden Stretch   

     Through the open crack in my window, there’s a heartrending cry. “Mommyyyyyyyy!”

The first week we move in, I don’t hear the sounds.

It’s only once the days settle into some sort of hum, that they worm their way into my conscious.

I’m standing at the kitchen counter, cooking, breathing in the magic of Yerushalayim, when my ears pick up on it. It stands out from the humdrum of daily life in the city and sounds very much like it’s coming through a microphone. It crackles in and out, a solemn voice droning on and on.

Some sort of lecture? I don’t think much about it. Yerushalayim is the holiest city on earth. They probably give public shiurim in the streets!

A few days later, a biting cold and pouring rain descend upon the city. A heavy fog covers the view from my kitchen window, and I can barely make out the white stone buildings in the far distance. The storm brings darkness early in the afternoon when I hear it again.

Through the open crack in my window, there’s a heartrending cry. “Mommyyyyyyyy!” It’s punctuated by the crackle of the microphone and comes through sounding brittle, but the emotion is heartrending.

A thick feeling of dread shivers through me.

This is no inspirational lecture. I shut the window and wait anxiously for my husband to come home.

I accost him the moment he walks through the door.

“Oh, those sounds? Across the road, there, behind that building”  — He points to the building facing ours — “is the beis halevayos. That’s where all the levayos in Yerushalayim go out from. What you’re hearing are the hespedim.”


I can’t bear the tinny, crackly microphone sound after that. Every time I think about what I’m hearing, I feel shivers up my spine. I put the hespedim to pained faces, imagine eyes filled with tears, hands clasping tissues, people standing in the cold of Yerushalayim’s gray winter, mourning a loved one. When a particularly heartrending sound crackles through the coldness, I shut my window and turn on a shiur.

The mornings are the most difficult.

I lie in bed during that delicious slice of time between waking up and getting out of bed, that stretch of time when the million and one things you dream of doing flit in and out of your mind, when sunshine streams in through the window and caresses your cheeks, when your body is still warm under the covers. Then the sickening realization that someone isn’t starting their day today, that there’s someone who will never again see the beautiful sky and sun, that there’s a family whose dreams and plans have suddenly ground to a halt wraps itself around me.

My million and one mundane, dreamy, sunny plans are suddenly tasteless. What are they worth, anyway?

I blink hard and brush those thoughts aside. I swing my feet over the edge of my bed and shut the window. And start my day, doing what I have to do, what I want to do, some days even touching a wisp of the sunny skies when I manage to fit in a dream, a wish, a beautiful moment in the most beautiful city on earth.

And then, as the days get longer and warmer, and the golden Yerushalayim sun makes the white stone sparkle and glimmer and the blue sky stretch high and vast, a golden dazzle of sunshine enters my life.

I wake one morning to feel the flutter of new life inside of me. Potential stretches and my dreams take on a fluffy, silky, soft feel of white lace and tiny toes. I lie in bed and breathe in the sunshine of new life unfurling, marvel at the beauty of it all.

And then the brittle, crackly microphone fills the air. And for a moment, in that stretch of time between sleep and consciousness, I’m struck by the irony of my position: that I’m caught between the very beginning tendrils of life and the fulfilling, or sometimes bitter, end of it.

As my thoughts flit in and out of my mind, the mundane tasks, the things I want to accomplish, the hopes I have for today, slowly take over my thoughts. I swing my feet over the edge of my bed and stretch.

Today lies ahead, ripe with endless possibility, and it’s within reach now. The mundane, endless tasks, the dreams; they’re mine to fulfill from the time the sun rises until it sets.

I shut the window, open the shades to let the golden sun stream in, and begin filling each moment of my day with life.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 848)

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