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Tempo: Journeys

Miriam Dansky

Sara thought that Yaakov had become akin to the Shabbos lights in their dramatic shadow: zachor, yizkor, a quiet act of remembering, a lingering glow

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

shiur

For Sara, Yaakov’s first yahrtzeit was not only a date, but something of an achievement. The last year was not what she could describe as living, but rather as being propelled away from a disaster site that was still slowly smoldering. 

Leaving the candle flickering on her sideboard, Sara thought that Yaakov had become akin to the Shabbos lights in their dramatic shadow: zachor, yizkor, a quiet act of remembering, a lingering glow. So she left the light in its glass and took a taxi to the station. 

It seemed an extraordinarily strange thing to do. She had to leave the place of her daily life. The train journey northward toward her husband’s final resting place was largely monotonous. Looking out through grimy windows, the endless flatness of fields became a flash of brown and green. But then came the sight of bright cornfields, looking as though they had been stitched by hand onto the green tapestry of fields. Why should she notice this? Was it of any import on this day, which was the exact day a year ago of the happening? 

The happening had been a series of ordinary events, which had progressed inexorably to an end completely unanticipated. At 11 a.m. she had glanced at her watch, handbag looped over her arm, waiting to go out together on some trifling errand. And somehow in that moment or slight increment of time there was already a dull refrain: Ayeka, where are you? Or had she added this later, in a kind of subtext? But Yaakov always answered when she called out to him, perhaps only with one word, but an answer nonetheless. So why not now?

And what of the moment when she had climbed the stairs and some oddly ominous iciness had begun to take hold of her heart? And then there had been only time with its hobnailed boots, thunderous as the men with black cases ascended the stairs, almost pushing her over in their rush, as if there was nothing for her to do by being there. She was suddenly an irrelevance. All the long corridors of their life together now counted for nothing. 

Now, on this journey toward him, she was assailed by memories. She thought of all those earliest years in the house opposite the park, with the bare floorboards and the secondhand furniture. Though subsisting with little, they’d had a cheerful optimism and emunah that life would rush on toward some better place. 

They had been right. The years turned. There was dappled light in summer on the stones of their backyard. The ivy she’d planted upon the birth of their first son grew and covered the brick wall. So many memories; a suitcase stuffed with memories with the contents spilling out. They were experiences from which she was now excluded in the here and now; an entire country from which she was now excluded. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 550)

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