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Tali Dee
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I never thought it would be my family

There is a black hole inside me. In another five years or another 10 years – even at my wedding – this hole will be there
The Dee family, Rabbi Leo and Lucy in the center, Rina (L) and Maia top row. Tali is on the right. 
Lucy, Rina and Maia were killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank on April 7, 2023. (Courtesy)
The Dee family, Rabbi Leo and Lucy in the center, Rina (L) and Maia top row. Tali is on the right. Lucy, Rina and Maia were killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank on April 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

ב”ה

I remember myself standing at the siren, closing my eyes and shedding a tear over an emotional passage or a sad song. I’ve always connected to Memorial Day ceremonies. At least that’s what I thought. That this is how you feel when you connect.

But I never thought it would be my family – the one for whom the ceremony was written. I see the pictures – in the news, around me, in the slide show at the ceremony. And it’s still hard for me to digest that it’s them. That it’s me.

For the last few days, I’ve felt sort of okay. We went out – Daddy, Keren, Yehuda, and I. We went to a restaurant. And they’re bringing us the most delicious food, and I have the car any time I want. And then suddenly, I realize that things will never be good again. There is a black hole inside me. And it’s there all the time.

Even when things are good for me – they’re not really good. And even in another five years or another 10 years – even at my wedding – this hole will be there.

These days the house is empty. Everything screams their absence. Someone put a bag of salad in the fridge. My mother would never let that happen. I went to fill up the car. It was complicated and I couldn’t call Mummy to explain it to me. I found myself asking for help from someone I didn’t know.

I find little notes that Rina wrote in the bedroom. I see the box of notes I kept from Mummy. Her wedding ring on my hand. In Maia’s closet, all her clothes are neatly arranged, just waiting.

Recently, I was sent a recording of Mummy singing Modeh Ani, the morning praise. “I thank You, living and enduring King, for You have returned my soul within me,” but He did not return her soul and that’s all I have left. Her recording. How is it possible to understand that this is all I have left? I don’t have Rina to talk to, or Maia to guide me, or Mummy to wake me up in the morning. To sing Modeh Ani to me.

I’ve always connected to Memorial Day ceremonies. At least that’s what I thought. That this is how you feel when you connect.

But nobody can relate to this pain. Not really. It is impossible to understand what it is to lose a loved one without experiencing it. I’ve never had such emptiness as this. I never knew what loss was.

I thought I understood, but I didn’t understand. And even now I don’t understand – I can’t come to terms with the fact that this is truly my reality. From a family of seven, we became a family of four. It’s impossible to digest. And it’s so scary to be so sad.

I want to jump ahead, to press the fast-forward button on my life, when all this will supposedly be behind me. I am waiting for the day when I will think about Rina and about Maia and about Mummy, and I will be able to breathe. And not cry. But can that be? I know this pain will not go away. That it won’t become easier for me.

I’ve always connected to Memorial Day ceremonies. At least that’s what I thought. That this is how you feel when you connect.

And I always knew that the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day was extreme but strong. Full of power. And now, now I don’t understand how it can be that Independence Day has arrived. I haven’t the strength to celebrate. How do you make this transition from grief to joy?

Rina was so excited about Independence Day. She was responsible for the flag march with her youth group girls in the ceremony, in front of the entire community. She shared the difficulties with us along the way, her concerns and her enthusiasm. But tomorrow I will come to the ceremony at my school, and they will talk about Rina there.

Sometimes what happened to us hits me, and then I can’t function. And then at other times I’m sort of removed from it, not believing that this is really my life. And there is no solace for this. This hole cannot be fixed.

These days, it’s hard to believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Everyone continues. The sun carries on shining, and people post normal statuses about normal things. But I stay behind. I don’t want photos that will document the fact that I’m growing up, but Maia and Rina aren’t. In three years I will be older than Maia. How is this even possible?

Even people who have experienced loss, have not experienced this triple loss at once. And I’m afraid of this loss. Afraid of the longing. Afraid of the sadness. Afraid to give birth without my mother.

I’ve always connected to Memorial Day ceremonies. At least that’s what I thought. That this is how you feel when you connect.

About the Author
Tali Dee is the daughter of Rabbi Leo Dee and Lucy Dee, z"l. Her mother and two of her sisters, Maia, z"l and Rina, z"l, were killed by terrorists while driving in the Jordan Valley during the 2023 Passover holiday.
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