Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rachel spent a long time looking for the perfect Yahrzeit candle holder for Gabi.  It was lit for the first time just after midnight. On the right is the Yahrzeit candle holder for Rachel.  The holder is made by the same people who made the Havdalah set that we used for many years after we got married.

On a number of occasions Rachel offered me the opportunity to post in this blog.  I always declined because I felt this was her place to express her feelings.  I have other outlets for myself.  This will be the last post on this blog.

Today marks 2 years since Gabi was taken from us. Rachel and I decided that we would mark her Yahrzeit on February 28th according to the secular calendar instead of according to the Jewish Calendar on 24th of Adar 1.  There are two reasons for this.

1. Gabi died before Purim.  Her Yahrzeit will always fall out after Purim on non-leap years. It is a quirk in the Jewish Calendar that seems to rub salt on such a painful day.

2. According to Halacha Gabi wasn't a real person. I cried as I held her warm body in my arms.  I loved her as any father would love their daughter. The Jewish Calendar just didn't seem relevant to remember this date.

On the morning of December 31st, 2012 Rachel did not wake up. She was 33 years old.  I would like to share the last month of her life that she did not capture in writing.

December started with Shabbat near Haifa. We spent Shabbat with friends we had never spent Shabbat with before. It was also our first time in Haifa.  On the way home we seized the opportunity to visit cousins who made Aliyah but we do not have the chance to see very often. Over Shabbat I was really proud of Rachel as she was able to shrug off a really stupid comment without any assistance from her anti-anxiety medication.

On the way home, some bright lights in a tunnel triggered what I think may have been the worst migraine she ever had.  The higher than usual doses of medication (under medical supervision) combined with a severe allergy attack triggered a severe bout of depression.   Once the headache was broken, Rachel couldn't deal with the allergic reaction and was getting little support from the doctor.  She took some medication just wanting the pain to stop. The medication continued to fuel the depression.  Someone called the police and at 2:30 am, we had to prove that she was Ok.  The next night we went to the hospital and the allergy attack was finally taken seriously.

Over Chanukkah she surrounded herself with the right people to pull her out of the depression.  The two of us took stock of what happened the night the police were came. We ended up talking all night. That night we put to rest any unfinished business that we had in the 17 years we knew each other.  Rachel was determined to break out of the depression and rebuild her life.  We had two incredible weeks. She was taking steps to take control of our lives and get back the life she wanted. It was almost like I had my old Rachel back.  We were both happy.

Then she had another migraine.  She went to the Kuppah to get the medication she needed.  Her instructions (as always) were to go home and go to sleep.  She had promised to take Channah shopping. She was determined to keep her promise and bought what Channah needed.  She spent at least an hour telling Channah how proud she was and how much she loved her.  I went out that evening. Rachel did her best to try to fight the medication and wait up for me. (We had a rule in our marriage that we would always go to sleep together.) I helped her get ready for bed. Her last words were "Thank You, Jason"

At the Shiva Rabbi Orlofsky told me that we have a tradition that Tzadikim get a Nevuah that there time was up. While it doesn't explain all of her actions, she was determined that night to keep her promises to Channah.  She also prepared Channah for the Shiva.  Rachel was someone who was always prepared. Our last 2 incredible weeks, she was able to do her best to make the transition to life without her just a little bit easier.

Rachel would sometimes say that we were not each others Bisheret.  We had to work extra hard to make our almost 15 years of marriage work.  As I try to plug the holes in my life left by her absence, I learn more and more everyday just how in sync we were and how much we complimented each others strengths and covered for the others weaknesses.

Rochel Imeynu stood up to God to demand protection for the Jewish People.  Her selfless devotion to her sister and the pains of infertility gave her the merit to have her request granted. I can imagine Rachel taking Gabi in her arms and standing up to God.  Her selfless devotion for others (both friend and stranger), the pain of infertility, the good deeds that continue to be done because of the lives she has changed, will be enough merit to have her request granted. I am sure she will demand that Channah is taken care of and she has all the tools to fulfill the tremendous potential, we always believed she has.

I went to the cemetery with a friend to visit Rachel today.  My thoughts are on how much I love and miss my Gabi. I love and miss Rachel very much.  I find myself wondering if Rachel had to make this sacrifice in order for Gabi not to be alone.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm not crazy.  I am not psychotic.  I am not dangerous.

I am just sad.  And lonely.  And miserable.  A lot.

And lonely.  Very, very lonely.  Very.

I'm so tired.

I feel subhuman.  Worthless.  Unattached to anything.

And most of all lonely.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I get weary,
And sick of trying I'm tired of living,
But scared of dying

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tonight, for Rachel Imeinu's yartzheit, (how in the world do we know when the anniversary of a death thousands of years ago was?  It is not as if the parsha even lines up with when we read that she dies in the Torah!)  my daughter's class had a mother/daughter Challah baking night at the school. When the girls took Challah, the teacher asked them if any of them had anyone they wanted to daven for.

My daughter was sensitive enough to NOT raise her hand to ask for a sibling (I would have fled the room), but now that I am home I am wondering why. It is not like it is such a huge secret that we are married 14 years with 1 little girl and 1 stillborn. I know a bunch of women in that room are already davening for us. Something about hearing Channah say it out loud would have shattered my heart. 

I know we are supposed to believe that when all hope is lost we can still daven that Rachel should intercede on our behalf (I still do not really understand how davening to an intermediary is okay.  I know I have been told that it is just like asking someone else who is "closer" so to speak to "ask for a favour" nudge nudge wink wink sort of thing.  Frankly, if Hashem is supposed to be my father and my king and everything else, I am not sure I should be believing that any of us are "closer" or "further" from him but that is totally besides the point).

Be that as it may.  Boy oh boy was I davening to myself that in the merit of Channah participating she could have her tefillah fulfilled.  

I am just so tired and sick of it all.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I am having one of those days where even though nothing Earth-shattering has happened I am at the end of my day and I just want to cry.  I feel like I have let down everyone I owe anything to, not fullfilled my end of repayment plans, and am constantly fighting the medical system here to gain access to rights and privileges that should be automatic.  I don't look right, I don't sound right.  Tonight I had trouble for the first time in ages with a note my daughter brought home from school because the Hebrew was just way above my head.

I know everyone has bad days and re-learning how to cope with them is part of coming back from where I was, and truthfully, I am going to be okay.  I have not had a panic attack, not even considered medicating away the stressful day.  All things considered, I know I am a lot further along than I was.

It still makes for a really sucky day though.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. Always remember what a true blessing every pregnancy and healthy child is. As much as we might like to think that with modern science this sort of thing does not happen any more, it does. It affects more women than you will ever know. I will always remember Gabiella Galit Swirsky even if other's choose not to.  She was a daughter, sister, grand daughter and would have been a friend if she had been given the chance.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I forgot to write in about yom tov. I did not go to shul at night, I just could not deal with it. DH said two of his friends were wonderful about making sure he was included, and when he sat alone coming over to be with him. The Rabbi sat with him for a little bit also. (Not sure if I wrote here about the Rabbi coming all the way up the hill Yom Kippur night to give us a bracha for a good year and that our tefillot should be answered because he did not catch us at shul. It is a steep walk with a lot of steps from his place to ours at the best of times, when I could not even offer him a drink it must have been terrible!)

Anyhow, during the day I was planning to just send my daughter and to go for yizkor. DH came home. The Rabbi had come over to him to see how he was doing. He explained briefly how hard simchat Torah is in particular (As opposed to the rest of the chagim which are just hard). The Rabbi asked gently if he would be mechubad with kol hanearim. DH said yes. This is the 2nd year in a row he has had the "honour" purchased for him. So he came home to get me.

I went in for the aliya. I forgot that at the end they always sing "Hamalach hagoel". It was my dad's favourite song. On top of sobbing through the aliya, this is my first set of chagim since my dad passed. I did make it through the various aliyot after that and said yizkor, but after that I fled and spent 20 minutes sobbing on a step near the shul.

Please, please please let some newlywed have the "kavod" next year. I am not sure I can take any more of it.