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.