Everyone knew today would be a hard day. Peri made sure that I would take today to myself as a time for reflection, contemplation and reliving my nightmares.
I took Channah to therapy this morning. After I dropped her off at school, I went to the cemetery. Each trip to the cemetery is a different experience. Aside from the reason I am there, I watch the different people that are there. I take note at the changes I have noticed since my last visit. It is humbling watching the cemetery grow.
Today I took note of the surroundings. The Superbus depot, the apartment buildings, a ringing school bell, the beautiful view of the surrounding mountains that are in full green this time of year. The bench which can be used as a landmark to find Rachel's spot blew over. She has some new neighbours and some new grave stones are being made.
I spent a good chunk of today just listening to music and even took a much needed nap. I have appreciated the people who have been able to reach out and let me know that they are also feeling the pain of today. There is a reason I included the word 'friend' on her gravestone. That is exactly who she was for so many people, even if they never met in real life.
In the last little while I have started looking at Rachel's death from a different angle. Perhaps Gabi's death had nothing to do with Rachel's. Maybe her time to pass had already been determined. In some bizarre way our loss of Gabi and Rachel's battle with depression were to provide me with the tools to raise Channah after Rachel was gone. At the very end of her life this became clear. If I look further back there are hints to it much earlier.
As I stood staring at Rachel's grave a thought occurred to me. The life of Rochel Emeinu has in many ways been someone my life could relate to with my life with Rachel. From her battle with infertility, her deeply ingrained midot of chessed, to the words Shavu Banim that are sung to new olim. Today I saw her in a different light.
She died giving birth to Benyamin. Her death was so sudden that she was buried on the side of the road. Why couldn't she live longer to help raise her son? Why couldn't she live long enough to be buried in the family burial plot in Hevron? A standard answer is that she needed to be at the side of the road in Beit Lechem, where the Jews passed her on their way to exile. That thought brought comfort to the people facing the fear of exile. It was her pleading to God that was accepted with the promise that her children would return to their land. I see a big hole in that explanation. The other Avot had a chance to plead for salvation. It was an act of kindness to her sister that brought about the acceptance of Rochel's request and not her location. Why did she have to die at that moment.
Rochel's mission in life was to do her part to bring about the 12 sons Yaakov needed to complete the Jewish nation. Her sister Leah delivered 6 children without much difficulty. Rochel brought a servant into her marriage that was already split with her sister just to get two. When her nephew brought home fertility medication she sought it for herself. Rochel tells Yaakov "Give me children or I am dead." The birth of Benyamin was the completion of her lifelong mission. Once that was complete her time was up.
Between the depression and migraines Rachel's life had become a living hell that I would not wish upon anyone. She worked really hard to manage as best as she could to provide the best for Channah and I; at the same time helping hundreds if not thousands of people deal with the pain she suffered in her life. She gave herself a tremendous two week push to accomplish as much as she could until the onset of one last migraine. She died peacefully in her bed, with me by her side, her last words "Thank You, Jason".
I don't know why that moment was the point where her life could be considered complete. I do know what tools she left behind to help Channah and I. I also have a taste of the impact she has had on the world and how many people are hurting today because of her loss. Even if I don't fully understand, I have to at least try to take some comfort from that.