My head is swirling with the awful images of yesterday’s news. First the horrific terrorist shooting in Ottawa, Canada, followed just a few hours later by the tragic terrorist attack at a Jerusalem light rail station where a 3 month old baby was killed. We kept changing from CNN to Israeli news for what seemed like hours. I cried when I learned of the death of Canadian Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who leaves behind a wife and a 5 year old son. I listened intently this morning as those who knew him spoke about his dedication and commitment to country and family.
Late last night I sat tearfully watching the infant’s funeral on the internet. Chaya Zissel Braun z”l, 3 months old, was buried hours after she was killed. Hundreds attended the funeral albeit that it was 1:30am here. The young father, himself injured, cried out the Kaddish for his daughter, the young mother looked in shock. But that tiny coffin is the image that stays with me, containing young Chaya’s body.
Being married to a Rabbi who served North American congregations for 35 years, I have witnessed grief for babies and children up close. From the murder/suicide of a young mother and her 5 year old daughter, to babies who died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, to babies and children dying from illnesses and car accidents and even a terrorist attack, this grief is deep, dark and unending.
As I watched Chaya’s funeral last night, seeing her traumatized and grief stricken parents, I thought –
what does this mother do now with her milk?
Her baby is gone and buried, but the life-sustaining milk remains, no doubt throughout Shiva. This milk will serve as a constant physical reminder that Chaya will no longer need it.
How does one mourn a 3 month old? Are there meaningful events, experiences to share, funny anecdotes to remember in Chaya’s short life? Yet her Mother’s milk continues to be present.
Yesterday a close friend in New Jersey texted me “it takes boatloads of emunah (faith) not to be very angry with HaShem. How do parents go on after this and still have emunah? I know I’m not worthy to have that much emunah.”
I want to believe that both Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and little Chaya Zissel Braun z”l completed their missions God had for them in this world and that one day we will understand loss of life like theirs. But the mother’s milk remains and now is without purpose.