Moshe and Malkie Hirsch

This afternoon, Rosie had her speech evaluation for the next age level, which is CPSE (committee on preschool special education). Since everything is done over the phone, we had set up an app that would enable the therapist to show Rosie pictures and have her tell the therapist what the pictures were so that she could gauge Rosie’s speech ability. As we were going through the various pictures, Rosie would identify the “giraffe,” “plate” and other pictures. And then came the picture of a man.

And what Rosie said startled me and brought tears to my eyes.

She said “Daddy!”

When she said that, the therapist laughed and responded “Sure.”

I doubt she knew that my Rosie doesn’t actually have a daddy, which makes it so strange that whenever she sees a picture of a man, any man, she refers to them as a father.

What makes Rosie love the Daddy song more than any other song on Cocomelon’s playlist?

What makes her light up in recognition when she sees the picture of an illustrated man and connects that to being a caretaker of some sort? The daddy that she never knew she didn’t have.

Does she realize or feel that she’s missing something because she doesn’t have a daddy? Isn’t she too young to know or is the feeling of a child without a father innate?

Then, like a dutiful Jewish mother, I worry. Do I not give her enough of what she needs? I try to, I really do. But I’m one person and I fear I’ll never successfully fill the void she feels.

I had always worried more about her older brothers than I did about her. After all, Moshe died when she was 1½ — a literal baby.

How would she even know or remember the feeling of having him here? The feeling of him throwing her up into the air or holding her as she fell asleep. The feeling of being comforted or being kissed when she cried or was upset.

I had thought at least she was spared the grieving. Yet somehow, Rosie’s got daddy on the brain.

She never seems sad when she talks about it or sings a generic ditty about how much daddy loves her. Maybe it’s because she’s too young to understand how sad it is that she won’t have what her friends have.

I worry — will it make her bitter? Will she suddenly realize at a certain age that she’s different because she has 1 parent instead of 2? Or maybe it’ll do the opposite and strengthen her in some way. Maybe she’ll hear stories and see pictures of what he was and know that she was luckier to have him for the short time she did. Luckier than some kids that have fathers who don’t care the way he did for the time he was here.

The helpless knowledge that I can’t protect my kids from the pain and sadness of not growing up with their loving father keeps me up some nights. Even if I try to imagine myself in their shoes, I’ll never know what it feels like for a child to have a parent vanish one day forever. Countless people assure me that they ended up being OK and were able to move on and create a good life after suffering this kind of loss. There is hope for my children.

I still can’t help but feel for my innocent children for going through something so life-altering and so devastating at such an early age. For knowing that all she’ll have to remember her daddy are the videos and pictures I’ll show her as she grows up. That’s the only reminder she’ll have to show her how special he was.

There’s a famous quote by Alfred Lord Tennyson that states: “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

For my boys and me, we are healing from the loss of someone we knew and loved. But Rosie’s path will be different. She will grow up loving only the sweet memories we share with her, of a dad she somehow still knows how to love. 

Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away 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 writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.

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