(cross posted, with minor edits, from Coffee and Chemo)
I knew that today was going to be a good day!
I planned to spend the morning and afternoon with my brother, his lovely wife, and their two ADORABLE little boys. This was going to be my day with them.
I planned to take them to Migdal David (The Tower of David Museum), where I have been a guide (on and off) for almost 20 years! (19, to be exact) It is my FAVORITE museum in Jerusalem, and I love guiding there. So it is especially great to share the museum with my family!
And then tonight Moshe and I planned to go out to dinner to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary.
What could be bad?
Well, I did both of those things! And they were each wonderful, in their own way.
But in the middle, my world collapsed a little.
We had already spent over 4 hours at Migdal David when Moshe called. (I thought we would spend about 3 hours there but everything takes longer with small kids! We were all exhausted by the end of the day, but it was worth it!)
Moshe had just learned that our friend’s daughter, who recently celebrated her Bat Mitzvah (12th birday) (around March), died today from cancer. He knew that I would want to know.
It is difficult for me even to write these words.
When I first started blogging, I was surprised to find that one of my regular readers was a woman with whom Moshe had worked in the past. As the mother of a child with cancer, she drew strength and support from my blog. I was amazed, and honored, to be able to provide that for her. I could not imagine the challenges of raising a child with cancer.
Over time, we emailed, we talked, we got to know each other.
I last saw her with her daughter at Zichron Menachem‘s Purim (holiday) celebration. Her daughter looked great! (besides having no hair) She was full of energy, as usual, and having a great time! She looked so young and strong!
All the doctors emphasize that, today, people can live for years with cancer. Surely, I believed, my friend’s daughter would be okay!
About a year and a half ago, I met my friend at the Bar Mitzvah of the son of a mutual friend. My friend admitted that she was afraid to begin planning her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah so far in advance. Who knew what might be.
I had a brief glimpse into the horrible fear that a mother feels when her child has cancer.
When I posted Choose Life (last May), I received the following letter from my friend:
I read your posts every day, and today’s has really stunned me.
In Tamar’s Bat-Mitzva, 3 months ago, I talked about just the same thing. I gave my personal interpretation to “Uvacharta Bachaim” – sometimes you cannot choose whether you’ll live or die, but you can choose to live the life you are given.
She sent me the text of her speech and I read it all (in Hebrew!). It was so moving, and so full of life!
And now, here I was, in the middle of giving a tour to my brother and his family, and I did not know how to deal with this loss.
I took a few minutes to try and regain my composure and figure out what I should do. I knew that I would not have another opportunity to spend time alone with my brother and his family.
I decided that I needed to finish giving my family their tour. I did not want to cut it short.
If I finished in time, I would try to attend the funeral. If not, I would simply go to the shiv’a (mourning house).
I forced myself to focus on the moment, and to be with my family 100 percent.
I did not rush myself or my family. It took us at least another hour before we left the museum.
I realized that I was not going to make it to the funeral.
(To be honest, I was a bit relieved. I am not at all certain that it would have been good for me to attend the funeral, even though I really wanted to go.)
When we got home, I helped my brother and sister in law to find some information they needed, then I went to get ready to go out for our anniversary.
Moshe and I had a lovely dinner together. Afterwards, we went to the hotel where we got married (we have been doing this every year since we got married).
We spent an hour, or so, just hanging out in the area where we had our wedding, talking about all sorts of things.
It was very special.
Among other things, we spoke about our friend and her daughter. How could we not?