By Malkie Hirsch
Not something I initially thought about in the immediate aftermath of Moshe’s passing.
There was so much to do. So many things I had to learn about that he did for us.
As we settled into our new normal, and I would routinely put the kids to bed at night, the dread of knowing that I’d have no one for myself would consume me.
I don’t know if I ever felt loneliness before now.
I grew up the oldest of six siblings. Our household was a busy one; there was always so much happening. Friends were always over, there were family get-togethers, and I knew at a young age that I’d want the same for the family I’d have one day. I was lucky enough to find someone like Moshe who had that same vision.
We achieved our dream, and through the chaos and mess and constant pile of shoes and misplaced items thrown haphazardly around the house, I realized that we had what we always wanted.
Love. Happiness. Family.
Loneliness is that stillness and quiet at the end of a long day when in the past you’d share cute stories with your person about what the kids did that day.
It’s looking to your left as you get into bed and realizing that the space next to yours will remain in the same pristine condition, with the starched sheets smooth and pulled because no one rests there at night anymore.
It’s going to parties and showing up yourself because your person is no longer here. And it doesn’t matter if you’re surrounded my loved ones and friends. It’s not the same. And it never will be.
Loneliness might be the most painful feeling I’ve ever experienced.
Loneliness causes the lump in my throat, the tears behind my eyes that threaten to fall at a moment’s notice. Loneliness is standing by the counter to eat dinner because there’s no one to eat with. Loneliness is no longer having to make dinner for your favorite person who only let himself relax for an hour a day at night when he finally took a small break to eat.
It’s that forlorn look in your kids’ eyes that, despite all of your work and effort, you cannot make better.
People do crazy things to eradicate loneliness. They delve into relationships that they know don’t work. They need to squash that feeling, fill it with something, anything else, to fill that painful, empty void in their lives.
Sounds like a crazy thing to do. But now that I’m in it, I understand the need to do whatever it takes to feel better. Even though there’s a chance that it just might feel worse.
Very early on in this new journey, Zahava looked at me while we sat at my dining-room table. She said that she wanted me to be free of any medication during the levayah and shivah. I nodded my head, but I was still in a state of shock. But then she said something that really spoke to me.
She told me that I needed to feel all of the things I was feeling. If I didn’t feel it now, if I medicated myself and was numb, it would resurface at a later time.
All of the sadness and anxiety and loneliness and what-ifs running through my head.
All of the feels.
But if you breathe through it, if you can take each minute and get to the next, and then the next after that? You realize you can do it.
It might be really uncomfortable and sad for awhile. You might have to fake a big smile on your face for the kids at times. But eventually the smile is genuine. You can feel the sadness and loneliness. But then you can be really happy again, too.
Minutes become hours and then days.
And then years.
And I have come to realize that it is somehow possible to live with a vital piece of my heart missing. That it is somehow possible to carry on with life while feeling an emptiness where love and companionship used to reside.
Loneliness has entered my home uninvited and I have decided not to fight her, not to pretend that she isn’t here, but to accept her in my life for what she is.
Because acknowledging the pain of my new loneliness is also remembering the love, friendship, and support that I was lucky enough to have called my own.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away in March at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writing with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.