Two Years, Two Dates, Two Candles

Today marks the second anniversary of the death and burial of my beloved wife, according to the secular calendar…September 23, 2016.  According to the Jewish calendar… 20 Elul.

On both dates, I lit a yahrzeit memorial candle to honor her memory. Two years. Two dates. Two candles. The flame from the candles is the only light that brightens me from the darkness in which I live since her death.

It tires me to hear constantly from well-meaning friends and colleagues that death is the natural partner of life. It visits us all. We cannot escape from it. We must learn to get over it and go on with our own life.

Only those who knew the magical story of our lives can truly understand how great a loss Rahel’s death was to me and how I am in chains, a self-made captive of my emotions.

We knew each other only six days. Six memorable days. We met on board the ship SS/Theodor Herzl of the Israeli Zim Lines and somehow it was love at very first sight. I believe it was hashgacha pratit. Divine Intervention. I believed then as I do now that it was God’s intention for us to be on the same ship, to meet, to fall in love and to marry.

Because of those circumstances our marriage and married life, 56 years together, were the happiest years of my life. (I hope they were for Rahel as well.  I cannot ask her now).

Last year at Sukkot I was invited to the home of dear friends to celebrate the holiday with a feast. Among the other invited guests was a man whom I knew well for many years who worshipped in the synagogue which I attend. He and his wife had a very happy marriage until the angel of death came and took her away some years ago. One year following her death he remarried.

At the Sukkot feast he began telling me how much he loved his first wife and how she would not have wanted him to be alone in his seventies. He told me how he met his second wife, a widow, and how much they were in love with one another. It’s not good to be alone, he told me. One needs a companion.

I told him that besides my three wonderful children and three devoted adult grand-children, I have no time to be lonely… and my steadfast companion is our five year old female Israeli Canaan dog, Carmit, a sabra born in Jerusalem from where my daughter bought her at the Shaar Hagai kennels.

The man did not stop. He kept on telling me how important it was to re-marry or to have a live-in companion. I became annoyed and agitated. I made a solemn promise that I would never re-marry. There was only one great love in my life and it could never be replaced by another.

I also have no need for a live-in or live-out companion. At approaching 86 years of life, I still cook, wash the laundry, drive to the supermarkets, do the shopping, and occasionally I vacuum the rugs (if my daughter allows me. She feels that pushing a heavy vacuum cleaner is too strenuous for me).

Today I will drive to the cemetery to visit Rahel’s grave, to talk to her, to pray and yes…to weep very bitter tears for the great loss in my life and for the hole in my heart which cannot be mended.

Love does not end..it does not cease to be love… following the death of a loved one.  Love is eternal.

The light of my life has been extinguished. I seclude myself with memories. I look at the photo albums with the hundreds of pictures of us over many years. Each photo has a story of its own.

Tomorrow evening I am invited to another Sukkot feast at the same home where I celebrated the festival last year. I have no doubts that among the many guests the same man with his second wife will be among them and he will continue his recommendations of the previous year.

In anticipation of it, I requested the hostess to seat us at separate tables. In spite of it, he will find me and again begin describing the joys in life of a second marriage.

Today it is two years that I have been called a widower. I have lit two candles. I pray for the impossible… that the light from the flickering flame of the candle will never be extinguished.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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