I watch closely — every move, every tremble of the lip, every twitch of the shoulder.

Inside, my heart sobs and tells me to run, fast.

The candelabra has five branches. A design of intricate detail, carefully polished to a pristine shine. Perfect.

She stands, a bit bent over, the world on her shoulders. Five candles. One for each of us.

Slowly, her fingers hold a match to a wick. Another one. All five candles are lit. She moves her hands over the candles, embracing them. She lifts her hands to her face and I stare and wonder: What does she pray for? Is she saying that tefillah? The one for her children to go on the right path?

There is no noise, but I sense her prayer. The strength of her emotions sets the air moving, the waves flood the air and my heart begins to thud. It’s almost like so many, many hopes and dreams are too much to be compressed into one short prayer. Too strong to put into words.

An old children’s song often replays in my mind. A child watches her mother light and asks what she is davening for. And the mother speaks, with hope and prayer, and perhaps a few tears, like my mother, too: “Yehi ratzon milfanecha Elokai…”

And she asks for them to have light. His light, shining on their path and showing the right way, making them grow higher and higher. She asks for them to do His Will, and their children the same. For there to be a future.

I watch my own mother and I wonder. Where are all those tears going? Of course I have emunah that Hashem hears everything and knows and feels along with us, too, but the child inside me just wants my mother to stop crying.

Stop, Ima, stop!

At that moment, I feel my mother’s strongest love for us. And that’s when all I want is to detach. Detach from her pain, and mine as well. Detach from everything and be free of this constant emptiness, in this house which is not and will never be a home.

One after the other, they made their choices. I understand their bitterness, their sadness, and their hurt. But I also see the other side — broken people, broken dreams, broken family.

Candles. Five candles. They burn through the meal where there are so many currents and winds. Volatile tides and quaking ground. Yet they all come from the same Source.

Every week I stand by her side, the only child present. In the dreary monotony that makes up each week, it’s this moment that hurts me the most. Flames flicker and again, and again, and again I watch a world falling apart.

And the Shabbos candles burn on. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)