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.