Moshe and Malkie Hirsch

All it takes is someone innocently asking for Moshe and I’m reduced to tears.

Someone who’s from out of town but has been here in the past arrives at the door from Eretz Yisrael.

As I sit on the couch in the kitchen, I hear the door open and Dovid is standing there, speaking to someone. They don’t walk into the house so I know it’s someone Dovid doesn’t know.

I panic a bit, even though Dovid is practically my height, so I run to his side. He makes an exit and I’m standing face to face with a man who has a bewildered expression on his face.

״איפה הבעל?״

(“Where is your husband?”)

I see that Dovid must have said something, so I take a breath and tell him, “He died 6 months ago…”

I feel my throat close up and the tears spring up in the corners of my eyes.

I think to myself, “Hold it together. Just wait until he leaves and then you can break down. Just not here. Not now.”

He persists.

״משה הירש? הבעל מת לפני שישה חדשים?!״

(“Moshe Hirsch? Your husband died six months ago?!”)

I nod my head, as the tears start falling. “Yes.”

He then proceeds to shake his head in disbelief and tell me what a good man he was. What a giving man, a man of all men. A man G-d wanted for Himself.

I get it.

The man in the doorway gives us a berachah for a good new year and takes his leave. I’m very thankful but then realize that I can’t walk well. It’s been six months and mostly everyone knows what happened, so when I come across someone who doesn’t, it just takes everything out of me. To inform them in their disbelieving state, confirm that it’s not a mistake and that it did indeed happen, and to accept their well wishes takes the wind out of my sails. I sit on the stairs for a second and remember that I was filling out camp forms (yes, in September) for next summer and continue doing that.

But then I realize that I can’t spot Dovid.

I call his name and hear a muffled response from the bathroom downstairs.

I stand by the bathroom door and ask him, “Dovid, are you OK?”

“I’m coming out, Mommy. One second.”

He comes out of the bathroom and I take a look at his sweet face.

His eyes are red and I see he’s been crying.

“Come sit down, Dovs. What’s the matter?”

He shakes his head and his voice cracks as he whispers, “That man kept asking for Tatty and I didn’t know how to say it.”

As I think about the day Dovid was born, all the joy surrounding his birth, his arrival into this world, did I ever think that in 12 short years, my son would lose his best friend? His father?

Never.

And it’s actually way sadder than baby Rosie losing her father after only one-and-a-half years on this earth. Because Dovid knows what he’s been cheated out of. What he’s going to miss out on.

So I hug him. And we cry. And for the first time in a while, I don’t reassure him.

I’m supposed to have the answers, as the adult and matriarch of this family. But at this moment, I’m at a loss. I can’t understand why this happened. And it’s tough to tell my kids that their questions won’t be answered. That they need to have blind faith that this was predetermined and that we should be grateful for the fact that he was ours for however long he was meant to be with us.

It’s Sunday, erev Rosh Hashanah. This past week has been highly emotional and I’ve found myself crying more than usual. I think back to last year and how different our erev yontif was. How Moshe stood outside of the grocery store on erev yontif waiting among the throngs of frum Jews prepared with a list of the items needed for the upcoming holiday. How he hauled all of the items in from the car to help me with the preparations. How he davened in shul last Rosh Hashanah with his boys for himself and his family for a good, healthy, happy new year. How he likely had no idea what was to come.

Did I take for granted the opportunity to daven last Rosh Hashanah with great concentration and fervor? What did I do wrong to have this happen to my family? Did I just assume that the year to come would be similar to the year that had passed?

I was a fool.

My davening will never be the same. My grief knows no end, and I feel like I can’t sit in shul among the beautiful women who arrive to pray for a good year to come, because I’ll likely be inconsolable and I don’t know if I can handle the looks of pity from others. The silent prayer from my neighboring congregants that they should never have to feel the way I feel, never have to live through loss the way we had to do this past year.

I’m that person now.

The person who no one wants to be. The kids who don’t have a father. The bar mitzvah boy who won’t have his father standing beside him while he leins, as he dances at his bar mitzvah.

The reality of all this is hitting me very hard as I hurriedly prepare the meals for yontif. I’ve taken a few breaks today and have gone to my room between the many phone calls and texts wishing us a better year to come and the multitude of flowers and gifts from the people who love us and care so much for our welfare.

I wish I can tell you that all the love and care makes me feel better, but I’d be lying. Because like a little child, in my head, I kick and scream and cry that I want our old life back. I want what everyone around us is still lucky to have, while we’re the ones who are the example of what no one wants to go through. I do love being able to be a source of chizuk and inspiration for people. I do, but not at this expense. I just wish things were different. And maybe in the future they will be. Never what we had, but maybe a new happiness and contentment.

I received a beautiful message on Instagram this morning and knew the minute I read it that it was something I needed to share with you.

The Avnei Nezer says that we eat honey for a shanah tovah u’mesukah. Why not sugar or a piece of cake? Why specifically honey?

Because honey comes from bees, which can hurt us. Bees can sting us and we tend to run away from them. Using honey teaches us that the pain of the past will become the sweetness of the future.

So my berachah to you is that any type of pain or discomfort that you suffered this year be transformed into sweetness and goodness. May you constantly feel Hashem’s Presence and may your tefillos be answered for the good.

Wishing you and your family a shanah tovah.

Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away in March at the age of 40. 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.

 

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