From 1960 to 2016, a love of 56 years, these words were heard every day, from morning until night.
“Boker tov, ahuv sheli. Yashanta tov? Bo, asiti l’cha kafee. Zeh al ha shulchan”
“Good morning, my love. Did you sleep well? Come, I made you coffee. It’s on the table”.
“Laila tov, ahuv sheli. Shaina metooka v’chalomot paz”.
“Good night, my love. Sweet sleep and happy dreams”.
Those were the words my beloved wife spoke to me each morning and each night. Now they remain only dead conversations, embedded in my heart, whispered to myself, heard by no one but only by my soul. The heart remains broken, incapable of comfort. The knife remains deeply stuck, unable to be removed.
My children repeat to me frequently that it is not normal to continue living a life in pain. I don’t know what “normal” means to them. To me it means the refusal to surrender to death’s cruelty.
A very dear friend lost his wife to the angel of death a few years prior to the death of my wife. But one year after her death he remarried and lives a happy life without forgetting his first wife.
At a party last year in Rehovot, I was seated next to a table of 4 lovely women… all widows, all educated.
One of the men in the party took me aside and pointed to one of them in particular.
“She has two university degrees. She is religious and highly cultured. The two of you would make a happy couple. Why don’t you call her and invite her for coffee? You never can tell what might be. You never can tell how happy your life could be again”.
I was deeply offended by his remarks. I knew that his intention was well-meaning. He himself had been divorced and was now sharing a happy life again with his companion of a dozen years.
But he was he and I am I. Two different people. Two totally different personalities. I am not able to determine how great were the loves of these re-married husbands. I only knew, know and will always cling to my first and only love.
Rahel and I held hands as we lay beside one another dozing off into the comfort of happy sleep.
Now, sleeping alone, I have only my pillow to hug and the warm fur of our loving dog, Carmit, on the bed beside me.
Am I lonely? Yes. Terribly lonely. But I learn to cope, even through many tears, with the pain of loneliness.
I have many devoted life-long friends and many newer acquaintances. They, however, are not able and never will be able to fill the void in my life.
I cannot expect anyone who has not experienced the magic that Rahel and I shared to understand my emotions and my pain. Falling in love at first sight and marrying after knowing one another for only six days prior to marriage is real magic. A kind that happens only once.
So that is an explanation for the “dead conversations”.
I have no feelings for who will be the elected or re-elected American president. I have no interest if Bibi will serve 12 months or 12 years in a prison. I have no belief that peace with the Palestinians will occur in my lifetime (which is not far in ending). I do no longer feel an important part of this world nor of this life. But there is no other life.
I am like a ghost who wanders from room to room over-hearing the most beautiful spoken words, words which form now a dead conversation.
“Boker tov, ahuv sheli. Laila tov, ahuv sheli”. Good morning, my love. Goodnight, my love”.
Now, for me, morning and night are entwined… little light. Much darkness.
Ein braira. Tzarich lichyot. There is no alternative. Must go on living.