Parenting

Hand in hand

The wind is blustery as I step onto what’s left of the wintry grass to reach your kever. This is the fourteenth time I’ve attempted to talk to you. I have come to daven and tell you how much I love you and miss you, and how incomplete my life is without you. I am muddled and hazy in your absence. Time has not been a complete healer. When your yahrtzeit approaches, the pain of my loss begins to resurface. Standing in the beis hachaim, I look at your tombstone, and the enormity of what has happened sinks in. The few lines on your matzeivah encompass it all, and my heart aches. You were a gavra, a special man among the elite of klal Yisrael. You were zocheh to Torah and wealth, and you gave endless amounts of money to tzedakah. You honored your parents with unceasing devotion. You worked hard to free innocent Jews from jail. Every ounce of your energy was utilized for worthy causes. You taught me the meaning of being truly selfless. As I continue to stare at your tombstone, I am aware of a sense of life. I actually feel your presence. It’s as if you are holding my hand. I still remember your strong grasp, the feeling of security it gave me as a child. I fondly recall clutching your hand on the first day of school. I was afraid and refused to let go. Your touch made me feel loved. I was secure knowing my daddy was nearby.

The years flew by, and soon you watched me graduate, a high-school senior ready to embark on her own journey in the world. We took photos to remember the evening. I still look at them; there we were, side by side, hand in hand. Again I felt a surge of your fatherly love. Only a few years later, I held your hand on the most joyous day of my life. The mitzvah tantz continued until the early hours of the morning—and what an uplifting dance it was! I held your hand tightly, like never before. Our hearts were bursting with emotion as you watched your little girl embrace her new life. And in your final battle with Alzheimer’s, the brutal ailment that robbed you of your brilliant mind, I held your hand to relieve your discomfort. Your words were garbled, and I couldn’t understand them. Somehow, though, through the touch of your hand we had a bond. I knew what you wanted. Your hand transmitted your messages; it told me if you needed your medication or a glass of water. Your touch said it all. I returned my feelings in the same way, squeezing your hand tightly, a special vehicle for love. I’m sure you felt it coming through. Your touch is no more, so I place my hand on your matzeivah. With a mixture of acute joy and sorrow—joy for my fondest memories, sorrow that I must take leave of you now—I slowly inch away. I am hoping that this visit will be my final one and that Moshiach will reunite us at last.

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