Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Like the Gold in the hands of a Goldsmith

In life everything has intrinsic value.  Some of that value is based on what that person or object is producing and some of it is based on potential.  Our efforts to realize that potential will determine how much of that potential value is turned into true value.

Since getting home last month the major project as been organizing and cleaning up the studio. After many, many hours the hardest stage has finally been completed.  I have maximized the space available for Channah's play room. 

The studio was Rachel's special place. It was filled with all kinds of tools, raw materials, chemicals, how to magazines, guidebooks and items that she could turn into beautiful objects. The loss of Gabi significantly drained Rachel's potential and what she was able to transform in that room. However, it was still there. Then  in an instant it was gone.

Over the last month (with the help of a really amazing profession organizer) every single item in that room was evaluated. Does it have sentimental value to me? Does it have sentimental value to Channah? Is this a repair that belongs to someone else? Does it have potential value to anyone else? How do I safely dispose of Nitric Acid? (Home Front Command has not given orders to open our gas masks. Based on what I read it would be necessary to dispose of it safely).  If only Rachel was here she could make use of this.

As I was working the song 'Through Heaven's Eyes' kept popping up in my head. After fleeing from Egypt, Moses feels that he has no value. His future father-in-law Shlomo Carlebach. I mean Yitro. (Rachel always felt the character was modelled off of Carlebach) He sings about how to evaluate the value of a person.

A number of the versus have been incorporated in my life over the last 16 years or are particularly insightful today. Lyrics

The next step in the studio is going to be a lot slower. I am looking for buyers for professional equipment that deserve to be used as they were meant to. There are finished pieces to be put away for Channah's future enjoyment and sold off so other can enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of her work. There are items that I know deep down inside had potential when Rachel was alive but no longer have any value. I will eventually need to part with those items.

The flip side is my life is still full of potential. I have a 9 year old girl who doesn't have to give a second thought to doing what our ancestors could only dream of doing. She is an incredible kid, full of potential to change the world. She is going to once again have a mother who will help develop her potential in a way that only a mother can.  I am going to have a wife. A life partner, where we can be happy raising our family in the land of Israel.

I have had enough grief and sorrow thrown at me that would destroy most people.My Grandmother lost her husband and son in the Holocaust. My Grandfather liberated her from her concentration camp. She picked up the pieces and rebuilt her life.  I am also ready to pick up the pieces and build a life for me and my family. A life  where I can be happy and we can all grow to maximize our potential. I know that is what Rachel would have wanted me to do.

I find it interesting that my favourite piyut from Yom Kippor is  כי הנה כחומר  It still bothers me that our shul doesn't use the tune I look.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Call of the Shofar

The Shofar has sounded to awaken our hearts. Those who eat kitniyot on Pesach have started saying Slichot. We are less then 3 weeks away from when Ashkanazim will be joining them. Shortly afterwards we sit in in judgement followed by a last chance of atonement. The edict of who will live and who will die will be set and sealed. We then take comfort in the progress we have made working to improve ourselves. We then shift to celebrating in pure joy.

The last week or two the early stages of depression have tried to get hold of me. I am fighting back trying to not let the sadness retake my life. Keeping Channah busy while, Peri is so far away has not made the battle easy. Some battles I have lost and some battles I have won but overall I am now holding my ground and starting to get back to where I want to be.

My thoughts have turned to my life this time last year and what Gabi's death did while living under the shadow of Rachel's depression. This will be the 3rd Rosh Hashanah since we accepted that our family would remain just the three of us. Then before Yom Kippor we found out the impossible would happen. Then our world shattered when Gabi died.

Life continued as a broken mess and this time of year came around again. That year as usual I went to Slichot at our shul on the Motzie Shabbat. I came home. Rachel was furious and yelled at me. How could I say Slichot. We had nothing to ask forgiveness for. It should be the other way around. I have not said Slichot since that night.

Last year Rachel had spent an entire year working on being a better person by letting go of grudges and repairing relationships that had broken down. The whole point of these days of introspection are to become a better person and she felt proud and confident of what she had accomplished. I was proud of her too. There were many days that the depression had won but she put up a good fight and there were definitely days where she came out the winner. After holding off for many years, she decided to by new matching machzorim for her and Channah.

On Yom Kippor, Rachel didn't stay until the end of davening and took Channah home to go to bed. Our Rabbi decided to walk up to the top of the hill because he had not had the opportunity to greet her in shul. We joked about what bad hosts we were by not offering even a glass water. I cannot begin to express how much that act of pure chesed meant to Rachel.  Sometimes something that may seem insignificant can make a huge difference in someone else's life. Perhaps that is the meaning of the idea of not taking 'small' mitzvot lightly. They also have the power to change the world without even realizing it.

Sukkot rolled around. The previous year sleeping in the Sukkah wasn't an option as Rachel needed me. We both agreed that I should try again. I think I may have even lasted an hour before Rachel realized I couldn't handle it. I don't know if I will ever gain back the "Hey Cool" feeling that I had sleeping in the Sukkah the first two years we were here.

On Simchat Torah I was given Kol HaNearim for the second year in a row. Rachel prayed that a chazakah would not be established by getting it again this year. She also yelled at me for not saying Yizkor for Gabi as per the psak our Rabbi had given the year before. How could my Mom light a Yarzeit candle and say Yizkor for Gabi and not me? Rachel got her wish as the next time Yizkor came up I said it for Rachel and for Gabi.

Many other memories have bouncing through my head. My bed had become my primary office so that Rachel would not be alone on the days she couldn't get out of bed. There were the countless trips to the hospitals, doctors offices and pharmacies. There were the times she tried to throw me out but I would refuse to leave. I only left once just to let off some steam. I was so angry. I was mid-throw when I realized that no matter where my release point was the phone was going to hit concrete or Jerusalem stone. It is the only time I was so angry that I broke something. Whenever I was upset Rachel would take the opportunity to remind me of that day.

There were some suicide attempts and many other times trying to figure out if she was suicidal or not. If I called for emergency psychiatric intervention my marriage would be over. If I didn't her life could be in danger. On those nights I would stay awake until I knew that she was safely asleep. At least the final two weeks of her life were on an upswing. Rachel passed away the way she would have wanted. In her bed away from medical professionals, with the knowledge the Channah and I would be well taken care of, having told Channah and I how important we were to her.  Rachel and I had a lot of challenges during our many years together. We were always committed to wanting what was best for each other and most of all Channah. 

I have learned a lot about myself in the pass year. I have learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be. I have learned about my strengths and weaknesses. Rachel made me a better person and gave me Channah. I am ready to rebuild my life with my new family. I hope that Hashem will that rebuilding to take place with happiness and comfort. If not for my sake for Channah's.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

If Only I Knew

One of the weddings I was at this summer, they did something that I had never heard of before.  I asked a friend who is far more well versed in current wedding trends than I am.  He said if he knew then what he knows now they would have done things very differently.

Here I am now 4 months away from my wedding.  There is one thing I definitely want to change but I don't know what I want to do instead. I am just having trouble figuring out in practical terms what that means. There is another question being discussed that for me it was a no brainer. With all the variables involved I am starting to doubt my ability to make the decision that will make me happy on the night of the wedding.

I agree with my friend 100%. Aside from these two things I have no idea in practise what it means.

If you could do your wedding over again, what would you do differently?