By Malkie Hirsch
When Hurricane Sandy descended upon Long Island, I fell like it had a certain something against Barnard Avenue. At first, I thought that the meteorologists were exaggerating a bit. I hung out at first by Fraydie and we let the kids play.
While we sat in her living room, I casually noticed her 14-foot trampoline become airborne and get lodged between the deck and the fence.
It literally just flew upwards. At that point I thought that maybe I should usher the kids back home and wait this supposed hurricane out.
At first, we watched the news about the impending storm.
Then there was a blackout.
And then I started getting nervous.
Meanwhile, Moshe was preparing himself and the house for the fight of his life. He started barking orders at me, but all I could seem to do was go from the couch in the kitchen to my bed.
I heard sirens from car alarms as the water rushed onto Barnard Avenue from every direction, drowning each car. And through it all, Moshe was running around inside and out, making sure the generator was above water level, making sure the pumps were working properly, taking a dive into the basement and retrieving the Verizon Wi-Fi router, grabbing a landline phone that he had in his room in 1990 (he probably felt very cool with that phone, once upon a time) and had saved in case of an emergency, and lastly, removing a door from Dovid’s bedroom to see if he could transport our 5-, 4-, and 2-year-old babies out to safety.
The kids were sleeping and I felt paralyzed with fear. I heard the creaking coming from the bones of the house, the frame seemed to be threatening me that it would give up at any moment.
But I felt a certain calmness through it all because I knew that Moshe wasn’t scared and he’d do anything to protect us from danger.
I kept looking at the water level rising on the fence in the back of the house and thought with amusement, “I always wanted a pool.”
Moshe ran into the kitchen and told me to start bringing food items to the attic bathroom.
I looked at him like he had three heads.
He repeated himself: “Malkie, I need you to start moving in case the water keeps getting higher, we’re gonna need food for the kids in the morning.”
I think at that point I started crying.
He came over to me and said, “Now is not the time. We need to prepare ourselves for anything. Grab the bagels and bottles.”
That’s who he was.
He was the Wizard of Oz. He managed, he was the support. I followed his direction well and felt like a rock star when things worked out, but all along, he was choreographing our lives. And I so loved him for that.
Everyone loved him for that.
The storm eventually abated. I woke up from the two hours of sleep that I got, opened my eyes and heard silence.
No creaking from the house. I peered out my window and saw neighbors standing outside, in water that reached their thighs. Meanwhile, Moshe was connecting the landline phone, connecting the internet, setting up a station in the kitchen for anyone who needed to use a phone or send an email.
While every house on Barnard Avenue got extensive flooding, and every homeowner had to live elsewhere for months, we had water in our basement only. We had electricity and we had heat. We had Internet and phone capabilities. We also had a full bar so that when our homeless friends came by to survey the damage of their houses, Moshe would give them a shot glass and some vodka. Even among the ruins of Barnard Avenue, there was Moshe exemplifying the middah of hachnasas orchim.
We left our house on Barnard for a few days and went to Brooklyn to my in-laws. But Moshe knew that people relied on the house for phone and Internet, so he kept the house open for everyone.
I have PTSD from that night in October 2012. Whenever I hear the term “tropical storm” or “high tide,” I break into a cold sweat.
When Moshe was here, and there’d be storm watch during certain times of the following years, yes I’d be nervous. But I knew he knew exactly what to do.
I’ve never met a man like Moshe.
Someone who stared fear straight in the face and said “C’mon. Lemme see what you got.”
He was an incredible man, husband, father, and friend.
I know I’ve said this before and forgive me for repeating myself.
We miss him.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away two months ago at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are now privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.