There is always a slight buzz around me. Murmuring, hovering, a slight shimmer in the air.

Sometimes the murmurings are soft, like butterflies

The gan party on your third birthday, when I was blindfolded, and had to pick you out of a crowd

Photos of you climbing out of the pool, with friends, horse back riding, studying

Your laugh, your ready smile, the light in your eyes

My longing for you

To see your face, hear your voice, feel the touch of your hand, your smell

The bride I imagine for you, your children, the names they will never get

Sweet thoughts of you and what could have been


Dancing, for there is still so much gratitude

The joy I look for and so often find, that puts the murmurings at ease

* * *

Sometimes the murmurings gather and hover

A footstep that sounds like your footstep

The door you will never walk through

Your love that I still need

Falling prostrate when I look like I’m standing

The restlessness

The stories I haven’t read

The cookies I haven’t baked

The games I haven’t played

The projects I cant get around to starting

The space you take up but will never fill

The places in the house where I can still feel you

Old notebooks with your handwriting

The Torah you don’t read aloud

The Torah you won’t ever learn

Your books, silent on the shelf

Even the letters that would fly in the air, silenced

The mitzvot I do in your memory

The mitzvot I don’t do, in pain or in anger

The joy I look for and often find, accompanied by the murmurings

* * *

Sometimes the murmurings hover and buzz and swarm

The loneliness of being first generation

A debt of gratitude, your grandmother not faulting me for raising you here

The number of the officer, one call to whom will bring a brother home from combat, for good

The telephone call I don’t make to her

The swallowed “no” when I let kids do something, go someplace that scares me

Their pain when I don’t let them

The tears I cry, the tears I choke back

The tears that are off in some foreign place, far away, because I am so far from myself

Knowing how close the worlds are to each other

And how little it takes to go from one to the next

That no matter how much attention I give you now, it will never be enough

It will always be too much

Any new sorrow that adds cumulative weight, even more straw on a pile of straw

The strength and resilience that grow, but then betray me, because I would like to have the muscles to run away

The wanting you back, the scream, hey, that was mine

The joy I look for and often find, but that doesn’t drown out the murmurings

* * *

Sometimes the murmurs are so loud, they hover and buzz and swarm and sting me, and I can barely hear anything above the din

Your screams

The blood on the floor

The photos of bloodied tzittzit

Your pallid face, the bullet hole on your neck they didn’t mean to show me

A row of body bags, and no way for me to know which one is you

Anger at myself, for biting back the pain

Anger at myself, for indulging the pain

Needing people, but wanting them to leave me alone

The overpowering nausea when the grief is the strongest

Hitting the wall of pain, there to crush me unless I get through it

Knowing that Death knows where my other children live

The joy I look for and so often find, but that can barely compete with the murmurings of how scared I really am

Jealousy for the family who can make a joyous celebration that’s not full of murmurings and hoverings and shimmers in the air.

* * *

Maybe I seem like I’m not really listening

Or I put a damper on someone else’s joy

Others leave a broken glass, neatly wrapped in aluminium foil, under the chuppah

While I hear an accompaniment even at my moments of greatest joy

The murmurings hover and buzz and swarm and sting and shimmer, full of broken glass

Rivkah Moriah grew up in New Hampshire and has been living in Israel since 1989 and has been Jewish since 1990. The mother of four, her eldest, Avraham David Moses, was killed in a terror attack at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav on March 6, 2008. Rivkah has been writing prose and poetry since the age of five.