Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pain Of The Saying Goodbye Variety

I've just returned from my third trip back to the US in the 2+ years since we made aliyah. This was a trip I especially did not want to make. My mother-in-law, hospitalized for three weeks with multiple symptoms that defied diagnosis, passed away on the first day of Sukkot, just two days short of her 83rd birthday.

My in-laws were blessed with 70 happy years together.

Had she passed away less than a day before, shiva would have lasted an hour and the balance of the week-long mourning period would have been cancelled by Sukkot. As it happened, shiva was postponed until the entire holiday had passed, including the 8th day that is observed outside of Israel. So the family languished in a kind of mourning limbo for over a week, grieving privately without the communal support of shiva and its attendant mourning rituals.

Since one of my spiritual goals for the new year is to focus on the positive, even in a difficult situation, I recognized many brachot.

Once shiva began, there was a steady stream of visitors, most strangers to me, but all with a connection to my husband or one or more members of his family, most of whom have lived in the same area for close to 50 years.

I witnessed incredible chesed pour forth from this community. Spending so much time together, I discovered strengths in members of my husband's family that I hadn't fully appreciated in the past. And I was able to visit briefly with our daughter, my mother and my sister, along with her son and his new wife, all of whom came from other US cities to extend their condolences in person.

The visit was stuffed with difficult emotions. During my two weeks away, I felt bereft of Jerusalem. I didn't just miss home. I missed God's Presence, which I find harder to sense outside of Israel. I missed the company of people who share my worldview, the companionship of people who understand the sacrifices we (willingly) make to live where we understand that God has asked us to live.

It's common to hear talk about the financial sacrifices that life in Israel often requires. But today, at this stage of Jewish history, when aliyah often means living far from loved ones, my vote for the most difficult sacrifice of aliyah is the pain of saying goodbye to the people we love.

It's a pain that comes with death, but not only with death. It comes when we board our aliyah flight, but not only when we board our aliyah flight.

It comes, again and again, every time we get the chance to be together, however briefly.

It comes again, with every hug, and with every kiss, in which we must say goodbye.


7 comments:

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

I love you, my friend.

Rachel said...

Yes. I also feel this. Sigh. {{{HUGS}}}

AMF said...

I also used to think that saying goodbye was the hardest part of making aliyah, but after being here 5 years, I'll move that down the list to #2.

#1, in my mind, is being here in Israel when a loved one in chu"l is chronically or acutely ill. Unfortunately, there's not much one can do to help from here, and it's a terrible feeling knowing that the relative is thousands of miles away.

Unknown said...

It is exactly this pain that keeps me here, tied to Chutz LeAretz.... :-(... I guess I cant put myself through that pain, nor those I love who I would have to leave (my children's grandparents)

Batya said...

I'm sorry to hear of your family's loss.

In the 42 years since our aliyah, I've always found missing the funerals and shivas the hardest. Nowadays travel and phone calls are much easier at least.

SaraK said...

I'm preparing for my first trip back to the US since making aliyah 15 months ago. While I am immensely excited to see so many family members and friends, I will miss Israel so much and I know saying good-bye to them will be so hard. Hope it won't be as tear-filled as when I left on aliyah.

I can handle all the difficulties I've had here (BH nothing really serious) but being far away from loved ones is just the hardest. Hugs don't really travel well through Skype.

rutimizrachi said...

Beautifully said.