By Malkie Hirsch
Moshe’s birthday was January 23, 1979.
I used to joke, once I got to know him better, that his birthday was so fitting for a man who was always b‘seder, always so logical and methodical in his thinking and actions, yet never without heart as well. Of course his birthday was 1/23. He was 1-2-3 in every way.
Nothing intimidated him. Nothing scared him. Unlike me, who’d hate change, always shied always from new experiences in life, and was intimidated by transition of any sort.
It’s ironic that every day since his death has been a new experience for us and for me.
Moshe had so many strengths. He had a work ethic that was second to none, he put everything into every day. But when we’d go on a family vacation, the same ethic applied. He wanted to show his kids a great time, create lasting memories of the times we’d spend together as a family, and we were lucky enough to celebrate his birthday every year away somewhere during yeshiva week. We’d take a big trip every couple of years (as we did last year in Puerto Rico) and the years in between would be spent at a ski resort in PA. We’d always plan in advance and tell the front desk that it was Moshe’s birthday and the hotel would paste a huge sign on our hotel room door and in the hotel room would be a stuffed animal, a pin that read “It’s my birthday!” and some other birthday memorabilia. He was always a good sport and we’d take pictures of him sporting the birthday items.
This past week, on Nison’s 11th birthday, while fishing in the junk drawer in our kitchen, I came across the “It’s my birthday” pin from two years ago. I didn’t initially realize where it was from and pinned it on my son’s shirt before taking him out for dinner.
When Fraydie saw the pin, she asked me if I knew where that was from. Typically, I didn’t and when she reminded me, I was brought back to our lives two years ago.
I don’t remember what my life was like when every day didn’t have a new experience that I really didn’t want to tackle. When Moshe had my back even when he was at work. I knew I could always rely on him and he’d have the answers. Even if he didn’t, he’d figure things out so that I didn’t have to stress about what likely was something silly, but back then in my former life, seemed serious and worry-worthy.
Two years ago, when we went away, I most likely stressed about taking 5 kids away, packing an impossible amount to accommodate 4 boys and a 6-month-old baby girl, and worrying about being kept awake at night while away because she was in unfamiliar surroundings. I can imagine the conversation we had in which Moshe would reassure me that it would all be fine and that he’d put Rosie to sleep, which of course he ended up doing. I’m aware that there are a lot of people out there who don’t have the type of support in a husband that I had. That makes this whole process of not having him here way harder. I’m still thankful that we had him with us for as long (or short) as we did.
I don’t want January 23, 2020, to be a sad day filled with thoughts of what should have been. I imagine that it’ll be an emotional day because we’ll think about happier times, a day that should have had that enormous “Happy birthday” poster tacked on our hotel room door with the stuffed animal and “It’s my birthday” pin stuck to the shirt of a husband and father who should be on vacation with us this week.
I want it to be a happy day that celebrates the things that Moshe loved most in this world. His family enjoying themselves, his hard work paying off by allowing him to give us fun and memorable times away with the Klocs, who are more than friends, but our vacation and life companions.
There’s something to be said for creating new memories with your family after suffering a loss like ours. But there’s also a comfort in familiarity. So we’ll be experiencing both this year, at a place we’ve been before but never without Moshe.
It’ll be fun for the kids and their resilience is something I admire. It’ll also be the first winter break without him, which will be heartbreaking. It’ll be a new experience done without him and I’ll silently dread it and I’ll be surprised sometime in the middle of the trip when I realize that the kids are having a blast and that this is exactly what Moshe would have wanted for us.
It all goes back to choosing what your journey will be, even when it’s really painful. Maybe I do have every right to be bitter about the course of our lives changing so drastically, so suddenly. But what happened happened and nothing I choose to do or how I act will make him come back. So I won’t lock myself in my room and bemoan my current existence. I won’t subject my kids to their only parent being a miserable human being who can only think of the blessings she once had, instead of hoping for happiness in the future. I won’t let myself go there. It’s not fair or right or what G-d intended.
Instead, I’m sitting at a water park with my happy kids and my closest friends helping me along as they do every day. When I think about the birthday we’ll silently be celebrating, I’ll be able to smile and think about the amazing 14 birthdays we were lucky enough to spend together as a family.
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 now privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.