By Malkie Hirsch
I’m the keeper of secrets.
Of sadness, of the struggles they’ve gone through that they unload onto me.
Maybe because they know that I know.
Because I can finally understand and feel the level of pain, disappointment, and heartbreak that they’ve felt, that they walk around with every day, like a badge of life experiences that no one wants, but many have.
I can usually tell when someone has something profoundly sad to tell me before they say anything. I see it in their eyes, as they relive little bits of their past in their minds, and tell me their story.
I know they do it from a place of love, and to encourage me to find that anchor within me that will keep my family happy and secure, and give them that hope that I’ve got a clue of how to navigate this life as their only parent, as their advocate, as their confidante, and as everything that Moshe was for them as well.
Before she opened her mouth, I saw in her eyes something familiar-looking.
It was that bottomless pain, that memory that would never escape her, because she was reliving what my kids are acclimating to at the moment—the reality that their father isn’t here in the physical sense for them anymore. The sense of finality for a child my children’s ages could embitter them, make them angry at the world, at G-d for the unfairness of it all, make them lash out in hurt towards other kids, and could do so much damage in general.
But it hasn’t. And I hope it doesn’t.
She grabbed my arm and told me that she was one of my kids. That her father died when she was a young girl and that when she’d see me at the beach, or running errands, she always wanted to stop me and tell me that my kids would be OK. That it’s not easy and she remembers as a child being so clearly different than her friends and how hard that was, but that 40 years later, she had her family and her grandchildren and had a deeper sense of gratefulness that a lot of people don’t get to have as they haven’t experienced the things she went through as a child.
That even in the darkest and saddest times in one’s life, there’s still a chance to recognize the beauty in every moment. The fact that she’s able to recognize the strength and deeper empathy she has for others because of her life experiences keeps me hopeful that maybe my kids can be the same. Maybe in addition to continuing to be the sweet and grounded kids that they are today, this can eventually make them responsible at a younger age, more thoughtful towards peers who are socially inept, or have a deeper sense of self-awareness that others don’t have.
After all, it’s always a choice, isn’t it?
You might not believe it, but once whatever happens to you happens, your reaction to whatever situation you find yourself in is entirely your choice.
Will this paralyze you, make you hide away and isolate yourself, or will it strengthen you?
Will you hear others’ stories and develop a negative outlook on the world and the struggles people have, or will it renew your sense of appreciation for being alive, for being able to help others get through a hard time?
It’s all a choice.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away in March at the age of 40. Over the past few months, Malkie has been sharing her thoughts 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.