With the weeks and then days leading up to my brother's 9th yartzeit, there are times I am easily triggered.
It doesn't take that much. It can be a thought, a conversation, a memory...and I am brought back. I think about my brother and I miss him.
I know this was meant to be and I accepted this as Hashem's will, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt sometimes.
I think about what it would be like if he would be alive today. Would he be married? Would he have kids? Would we still be as close as we were when he was alive? What kind of things would I share with him? Would our relationship be more superficial? Would we chat about our daily schedule? The kids? Or would we talk about real things?
And I can only imagine...
I think back to the last time I saw Shalom and I can't help but cry. I remember saying goodbye to him on Visiting Day, not knowing that this would be the last time I would see him. The last time in my life. How I wish I could just have another few minutes with him, say a real, proper goodbye, a goodbye I would have said with an all encompassing embrace...had I known.
But I didn't know.
I wasn't meant to know.
I snap back to reality.
Life goes on.
I'm in an elevator. I hear two young mothers talking about what it's like to have their kids in camp.
"My sister says having her sons in camp is like a full-time job. All day she's busy sending packages with this one and finding rides with that one... And when the girls are in another camp on the other side of the mountains, oh boy does it get tough!"
And I want to scream.
But of course, I don't say a word.
I walk out of the elevator and my heart is screaming.
Do you realize how lucky you are to have kids in camp?? Do you realize how lucky you are to be able to send packages to them and yes, to be busy with that?
And I think back to the last summer of my brother's life. When for the first time since any of us kids went to camp, my mother sent packages to Shalom. In the beginning of each week, she would go to the grocery and buy nosh and treats. I always told her to buy the Softbite cookies because I knew those were his favorite. (We could eat them together so quickly-we'd finish half the package on erev shabbos after we had pizza for lunch and the rest would be gone by shabbos afternoon!) When the box was full, my mother would take it next door to my grandmother's office and she'd ship it to him in camp.
And when he got his package, he didn't keep it all to himself. He generously shared it with his friends. And when Shalom picked up on the cues from a friend that he needed certain staples for a staple gun so he could fix something, he asked me to send it in his next package. No details as to why...but I sent it to him...and he gave it to the surprised boy-who never asked for them in the first place! He had just mentioned in passing that he needed those staples and next thing he knew, he had them in his hands a couple of days later!
I think back to those packages...and I am comforted. I remember spending so much time making a collage of the pictures of my nieces and nephews, fitting them all in onto just two pages, printing them out on colored paper and sending them to Shalom. I know that I did mine. I know how happy he was to see those pictures...because he loved each niece and nephew with all his heart. He loved to play with them when they came over. He loved little babies. He loved kids. And he loved having those pictures...the last he got to see of them. It feels good to know that I was the one who sent him those pictures...in one of those weekly packages my mother sent him during his last summer in camp.
It's those little things that can trigger so much inside of me.
Snippets of a conversation between two mothers and look...look what it brought back for me.
I think about our Beis Hamikdosh...I think about my own personal loss...and I am sad.
Where are our triggers?
We have no triggers.
We have no memories.
We are so far away.
So, so far away.
We have to force ourselves to feel. To make the churban seem real to us.
It has been so many years.
Too many years.
There is nothing that can bring on memories of that awesome time. We didn't live to see the avodah in the Bais Hamikdosh, the Levi'im singing shira, the smoke of the Korban Tamid. We never experienced a Yom Kippur, watching the red string turn white, coming out of that incredible day with the knowledge that our sins were forgiven.
We didn't experience life with the glory of Hashem's presence felt in Yerushalayim.
We didn't live to feel the churban.
The deaths and the losses.
We are so far away from it all.
But we have our own losses.
Our own personal challenges that help us feel that we are in galus.
So although we can't be triggered and we aren't close enough to the time of the Beis Hamikdosh to feel real pain over what happened so many years ago, we still have this one day a year where we can try.
We can try to go back...try to dig deep inside ourselves and see...what touches us.
What makes us cry.
What are we sad about?
What do we want to change?
And remember that we are in galus.
We need to daven to Hashem...for change.
For the ultimate Yeshuah.
May the day come when we have no memories of galus...when galus is such a foreign concept that nothing can trigger a thought about what the time away from the Shechina, away from the Kedusha was all about!
Have an easy and meaningful Tisha B'av.