By Malkie Hirsch
“You’re so strong.”
Because G-d chose that we would go through such an immense tragedy?
Because I get out of bed every day and make things as normal as they possibly could be to protect my terrified children?
What makes me any different than you?
Why do you think you’d respond differently if G-d forbid tragedy struck in your life?
You think you know, but I can tell you this now: You have no idea what lives inside you. Deep inside you, where it rests dormant, until you have a need to call on it.
It’s this small spark. It’s a will to survive. It’s doing things I never did for my kids because “Tatty did that.”
It’s making up answers to questions I never knew.
It’s having new experiences I never wanted to have.
It’s hearing Rosie cry in the middle of the night and knowing that although Moshe would have gone upstairs to calm her, now it’s all on me.
But the love I see in her eyes when I’m there for her, holding her.
The appreciation and closeness that my kids will have with me now that they ask for me instead of the constant “Where’s Tatty?”
The beautifully new relationship that’s developing between my parents and me, between my siblings and me.
Is that strength?
Or is that me waving my hands in surrender and saying that I’m actually not strong enough?
That I need help.
But maybe that IS strength.
Knowing your limits, what you’re able to achieve and what you need from people.
“What do you need?”
What a question.
The answers will vary. Sometimes I could be pleading with Gavi about running out to get him a small toy and someone will show up at my door and offer help.
“Would you like to take a trip to Amazing Savings? Gavi would like water balloons.”
“I need Moshe back. Can you arrange that?” (I’ll admit, I get funny looks when I pose this question, because I think they’re scared I’ve finally lost it. I use it for comedic relief and very sparingly.)
I need for you all to be doing what you’ve been doing all along.
I might not be able to pinpoint what it is that each and every person has done, but as a collective effort, it’s kept me going.
It’s knowing me well enough to know my weaknesses and help me strengthen them.
It’s reminders to check my e-mail, which I’m terrible at doing.
Reminders to go through the mail.
It’s messages of encouragement via text or WhatsApp.
It’s offering your kids to come help me with mine so I can breathe.
It’s bringing coffee and treats, which shows me you care and are thinking of us.
It’s the little things that are way bigger than you ever imagined.
My point is, I’m not strong alone.
If strong at all.
I’m strong because my friends and loved ones are strengthening me. The people I’ve seen around this neighborhood for the past 25 years of living here who I’ve had nearly nothing to do with strengthen me. You simply don’t know where it can come from.
And no one could do this alone.
In Parashat B’shalach, when Bnei Yisrael were battling Amalek, Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to ascend a mountain and raise his arms to the heavens. As Moshe kept his arms raised, Bnei Yisrael would be defeating Amalek.
But when he lowered his arms, Amalek would be defeating Bnei Yisrael.
Sensing that Moshe Rabbeinu needed assistance keeping his arms raised, Ahron and Chur ascended the mountain to be beside Moshe and held up his arms on either side, when Moshe simply didn’t have the strength to keep them raised on his own.
I don’t think tying that analogy to my current life needs any further explanation.
But when you approach me and tell me how strong I am, I’ll reply, “I’m strong with your help.”
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away in March at the age of just 40. Over the last few months, 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.