By Malkie Hirsch
Yesterday was a particularly busy Shabbos day.
Once upon a time, with Moshe at the helm, this was commonplace. It would be a nonstop parade in the Hirsch house, with every neighbor and friend stopping in at one point or another.
I loved it, but at times, I’d be overwhelmed by the amount of people stopping in to say hi, grab a bite, get a drink, and bringing their kids to play or pick up one of mine to play by them.
Shabbos was the only day when Moshe was able to not look at his phone or at his computer and really let himself relax somewhat and be the naturally gifted host he was.
When we’d have a steady stream of friends and neighbors come by on Shabbos, at some point I’d usually retreat to our room and sit in there for a few minutes to catch my breath. While I loved the company as much as Moshe did, sometimes I’d just need a breather and break from being on all day.
Moshe never needed that but would usually stick his head in our room if he noticed I’d gone missing, and ask if I was OK. I’d smile and nod and come back down, joining the crowd of ABC neighbors in the kitchen.
After Moshe died, I had thoughts running through my head at a furious pace. I couldn’t sleep because my mind wouldn’t shut off. I’d keep thinking of the changes that would be forced upon the kids and me. Things I didn’t want to change were changing all around us.
And you realize very quickly that the control you thought you had indeed doesn’t exist.
It’s a vulnerable feeling. A feeling of turning to G-d because no one else can supply you with the answers to the plethora of questions racing through your mind. So you just give in and resign yourself to faith. Because that’s truly the only feeling that will calm you from within and supply you with the belief that everything happens for a reason and that there’s a bigger picture we’re not privy to, but one day maybe we’ll understand the timeline of our lives a bit more.
Or maybe not.
But if there’s faith, regardless, it’ll be OK.
One of my biggest fears was that on Shabbos, the house would be empty. Our friends and neighbors would be afraid to visit and so we’d be alone. And honestly, who could blame them? I’d be afraid to take the plunge and visit a family who had suffered such a significant and sudden loss, too. So on the first Shabbos without Moshe, since we had an abundance of food in the house and I knew that there’d be no way we could consume it, we held an impromptu kiddush after Friday-night minyan.
For all the men who would come into the house throughout Shabbos, for all of Moshe’s friends he only saw for that one day a week. Now instead of him giving to them, the tables had turned and it was their moment to show me and the kids that they were here for us.
For the first couple of weeks, I’d be approached and asked if I wanted them to relocate the minyan. I’d just look at them with one of my signature looks and say “Uh, no. Dovid and Nison say Kaddish. Is there anything easier than saying it in their home, in their environment? The minyan stays here.”
As the weeks progressed, I realized something else that hadn’t changed drastically.
At 39 years old, with a loving and selfless husband, beautiful and healthy children, and a great neighborhood full of caring people who truly loved us, I realized that I loved the person that I had become.
It took a long, long time. And there were still days when I’d question myself, my parenting abilities, and other things I felt I fell short of in my life.
But when Moshe was taken from us, I truly realized that I wanted to remain who I was, and I was terrified that this would change me completely. I felt things on a deeper level. I found myself crying all the time, and I yearned to remain the happy person I knew I was previously. I took the steps to ensure that I had nothing making me artificially feel happy or relaxed, and I began the journey of self-rediscovery.
A large part of getting me back to who I was prior to Moshe’s passing was having the friends and the neighbors and the people around us be the people they always were. Treating us the same way as always. The only difference was that instead of Moshe being our safety net/support, now it was an intricately woven network of friends and relatives. They keep their arms banded and interlocked so we never fall. And I know we have them for Shabbos afternoon or for anytime they’re needed. They won’t let us falter and they’ve breathed life back into the person I was before and shall remain for the rest of my days.
For Moshe’s memory? Maybe.
For my kids, who take comfort in being home where we belong, eating at our Shabbos table and saying Kaddish in the home that Moshe said Kaddish for his father? Maybe.
For the love of a man they can’t ever repay but for whom they can take steps to make his family feel like they once did? Maybe.
Whatever it may be, we notice the work that goes into showing up every week and making the kids and me feel like us again.
And I know Moshe loves and appreciates it, too.
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. 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.