For the first 2.5 years after we made Aliyah our lives just seemed to fall into place. Our Rabbi never comforts bad news with "It's for the best." We just simply don't know what is in store for us and it might not turn out better. For us we had our challenges and worries but everything just seemed to work itself out perfectly. After coming back from Toronto, Rachel getting pregnant was a tremendous gift and just another step of life falling into place. It was a difficult pregnancy with Rachel having multiple appointments at the Kuppah every week, even before she was put on bed rest. As difficult as it was, she never complained and always handled each difficult day with a smile.
When we hit the "safe zone" (gestationally farther along then Channah was). Rachel and I celebrated and bought a stroller. A few days later, a year ago today, our lives were shattered forever. We were in the ambulance sirens blaring on the way to the hospital. I still didn't even realize what that meant. I began mentally preparing for either another hospital stay or possible a preemie born that day. It was beyond anything I could have believed that such a precious miracle gift would be taken away just like that. A knot in her umbilical cord ended her life. A "freak accident", that will forever cast doubts in the what could have been done to save her life. Aside from the "could be" there will always been the "should have been", where I did not react to my little girl's life being in danger fast enough. Even if it is true that she couldn't have been saved, I didn't do enough to try.
The past year has been a nightmare. Rachel had a nervous breakdown, on top of a number of serious regular medical issues. To top things off she also lost her father to brain cancer. The strain it has placed on our relationship has been at time almost unbearable. We have lost a lot many friends, some that have been around for decades. Yesterday, Channah came home from school crying. There are still songs that she can't listen to because they remind her of Gabi. She started crying and some of her friends couldn't understand why. They said that it is not the first time it happened.Although the friends she counted on last year and the Ethiopian kids did understand. She responded that they don't know what it is like to be an only child and how much she was looking forward to having a sister.
We have had people who believe Gabi's life wasn't worth anything and that we are taking too long to get over it. What these people don't realize is that Gabi was gestationally older, bigger, had a high APGAR score than when Channah was born (with the exception of not breathing and no heart beat). If there had been a way for her to be born before the knot tightened she would have had a better start to life than Channah. We all know how wonderful Channah turned out.
On the plus side, it has been incredible the people who have stepped up and been there for us this year. Their support has been incredibly meaningful and a few people can take credit for literally saving Rachel's life. The kindness we received from true friends and real baalei chesed can never be repaid.
A person's name is supposed to capture the essence of who they are:
Gabriella - came from my Mother's parents last name Gabriellow. My grandmother had her husband and child wiped out in the holocoust. My grandfather was the cook in the Russian Army that liberated her concentration camp. He took care of her and brought her back to health. My Mom was born in a DP camp before they eventually made their was to Canada.
My Grandmother's friends ran to report her when the Nazi's came to their village. She too had to learn the lesson of who her real friends are. The flip side is she was able to rebuild her life after such a terrible tragedy. She kept a picture of her son on her wall and quietly carried his memory with her. I hope that we can move forward in life but Gabi will always be an important member even if she was also denied the opportunity of growing up.
Galit - translates as waves. She was named after Rachel's Grandfather who love sailing and was never afraid to cause waves to make the world a better place. In WWII he was an engineer with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was dishonourably discharged after refusing a superiors orders to approve a plane for flight. The plane never returned from it's flight.
Gabi has made waves without even being born. A tremendous amount of mitzvot, chesed, learning have all been done because of her. She was well loved and will always be remembered by those who cared. We are in the process of adding a kids library in our shul, so that her memory can inspire other children to learn and grow. It is unbelievable the amount of people who have decided that they want to be a part of this project.
A few weeks ago we visited Kever Rochel. Rochel Emeinu is given a hard time by many meforishim, for her efforts to try to have children. "Give me children or give me death." Yet, she was the one who was willing to allow her sister to be a rival wife with the man she loved. She was the one who was buried by the side of the road, after being denied the chance of raising the son she had just given birth to. However it is her kever that the Jews stopped at on the way to Galut. It was her merit that brought the promise that her children will return. It is my family that is living that promise.
As we were not with a tour, I took the time to daven Mincha. I asked her to, just as she went to plead before God on behalf of the Jewish people to take my Gabi with her and plead to Hashem. We had to sacrifice our Gabi, please give us the strength to rebuild our family, both in size and emotional and spiritual strength.
We hope that the nightmare year is now over. Tomorrow begins a new page, where we can carry forward Gabi's family and rebuild our lives and be successful similar to what we had before losing Gabi. I just hope God is willing to go along with this plan.