When I brush her hair and smell her shampoo, I feel that pit in my throat, thinking of all the children we lost and those missing and possibly facing unthinkable treatment. And this sweet soul I have the honor of caring for has no idea what is happening to our people in our homeland. What atrocities we are facing and the trauma our entire worldwide community is enduring, just by reading headlines and imagining it all. The images we are all haunted by, both day and night, are the worst nightmares but in reality. Hearing the mourning mother of a gorgeous ten year old girl, who is relieved her daughter is dead, instead of kidnapped, facing unspeakable pain, is a dagger to the heart. Saying that I feel blessed and fortunate right now doesn’t even begin describe the relief I feel when my children return home safely each day.
My youngest child grounds me. Reminds me how to keep going and stay focused on getting through the day. Her hand in mine, staring at me with her ocean blue eyes and unabashedly smiling, I feel hope. This is how we will carry on. By raising her and her siblings with the faith of our ancestors we are honoring those who have perished. Maimonides teaches that “anyone who adds a soul to the Jewish people is considered as if he built an entire world.” As broken as we all feel right now, as much as it feels like the world is unhinged and against us, we pick up every day, raising our children with Torah and mitzvot.
Right now we are enduring a deep darkness. The despair and anguish is surrounding us and seeping into our hearts and souls. We must process these emotions and acknowledge the trauma we are enduring right now. There is no choice but to go through this, there is just no way around it. But as we process and dust ourselves off slightly, we have to look for the light and be the light. Every mitzvah, every kind word brings a bit of light into the abyss we are in. Our children remind us that life continues. They bring more light into the world.
My prayer is for those mothers, mourning and facing grueling pain, but also for Jewish parents everywhere. We are getting up everyday and continuing on. We are doing our best to answer the unanswerable questions of our bigger kids. We are doing our best to carry on. Just those acts of getting through the day are helping to shed some light on this very dark time. As a people we will prevail, as we always do. We will not let our foes extinguish us or the goodness that does very much exist in this world. And with time the light will overcome the dark. Holiness and love win. G-d is with us, even in the darkest times. Together we find our strength to carry on.