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My Husband, My Right Hand

My Husband, My Right Hand

Lasting impressions from my husband’s funeral

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As I sat down in the dimly lit chapel, I saw that my grandchildren were sitting in rows on both sides of the aisle. Friends and relatives who had greeted me now sat in the back row seats. A fully lit menorah glowed in front of a placard with the 23rd Psalm written in Hebrew and English. In the middle of the aisle, a tallit-covered pine coffin. Today was the funeral of my beloved husband, Adam ben Yitzchak Leib HaLevi, of blessed memory.

The rabbi walked to the lectern to speak. My son, David, and daughter, Debra, sat alongside me as the rabbi remembered his years with Adam. Adam, who had been an accountant, had tried to help the rabbi learn how to fundraise. But what the rabbi learned was about relationships.

Then David spoke of his dad, the dad who at 30 was I put my handkerchief to my face and criedparalyzed with Guillain–Barré syndrome. Once he recovered, Adam had then visited others who were sick, showing that recovery was possible for them too. David remembered how his dad had said yes when asked to take his great-grandfather up two flights of stairs to get to synagogue for the holidays. How his dad had said yes when asked to help needy families with accounting advice.

David’s speech reminded me of my answer when I was asked why I married Adam. “He runs toward, instead of from, problems,” I answered.

The next to speak was the first of my four grandsons. Tuvya spoke of the good times he had with his zaydie on Shabbat and holidays, and the time just a few weeks ago when I had an eye operation and Adam stayed with Debra’s family. How grateful I had been for their help at that time. Adam could not be alone.

Services over, the funeral director took the tallit off of the coffin and asked, “Are there pallbearers?” As I stood up, I put my handkerchief to my face and cried. Along with Adam’s cousin Zion and others, my youngest grandson, Yoni, who has special needs, stood at the front.

When Zion said, “Let’s lift him up,” I gasped.

“Don’t worry, it’ll be okay,” said Zion.

David rushed over and said, “Yoni, stand in the middle.”

Yoni moved to the middle. They lifted up the coffin before they walked down the aisle.

Readying myself for the ride to the cemetery, I buttoned my torn sweater before putting on my black coat. Fumbling in my pockets, I could find only one of my black gloves. Where was the other one? How could I go through the rest of the day without a right glove? That’s like going through life without a right hand.

David, Debra and I were in the car following the hearse. As I changed into sneakers, I scrounged around the floor of the car for the missing glove.

Once at the cemetery, the funeral director asked for volunteers to carry Adam to the grave. Yoni answered the call and stood at the ready, bright-blue yarmulke covering his blond hair. David called to his cousin Eric to take over for Yoni.

The sun shone on the freshly fallen snow, making me feel warmer until I turned into the shadow behind the Cemetery Society building. It was a building filled with my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ names. I wobbled along the snow and grass holding on to David and Debra.

Once at the grave, Yoni stood holding one end of a rope to lower Adam into the grave. Yoni my grandson, Yoni who had learned to chant the Torah portion in Hebrew for his bar mitzvah, was there for his zaydie. Once again, Eric took over for Yoni.

Just on the other side of a nearby fence was a tree. I loved seeing this tree: it would give shade and flower in the summer; its leaves would turn red, orange and yellow before falling onto the ground, before the white snow.

David and I listened as the dirt was dropped onto the coffin by the mourners, shovel by shovel. Debra cried. She had been crying for the past two weeks, each of us taking turns staying with Adam at the hospital. After a massive stroke, which left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak or even swallow, I didn’t want him to be alone.

Back at my home, family and friends surrounded me as I sat and looked around at the empty spaces where mirrors had been, at the yahrtzeit candle in the middle of the Family and friends surrounded medining room table now covered with kugels and salads and desserts, at the chair with arms that allowed Adam to prop himself up after his first stroke over a year ago. A long year ago.

Finally I agreed to eat an egg and have coffee. I did feel a little better, although I could not believe this was happening to me and my family. Eventually I ate something more substantial.

Later in the day, the rabbi came back for the minyan and said, “We need two more men.”

David called for the boys to come back to my home.

When the boys arrived, the rabbi said: “We need more yarmulkes.”

Yoni knew where they were, and passed them to the men who needed them.

Tears of thankfulness to G‑d rolled down my cheeks as Yoni stood as the 10th man. Yoni was needed, and he was special.

“Zaydie would be so proud,” I said later as I hugged Yoni.

I saw that when he was needed, Yoni ran toward instead of from, just like his grandfather.

Linda Goldberg lives in Natick, Mass., where she belongs to the Chabad Center. She founded The Metro West Writers’ Workshop and led it for 17 years. She is blessed with four grandsons.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Linda Goldberg May 29, 2016

Touched by Each and Every comment I am touched by each and every comment.
How my story both reflects other readers experiences and touches others of different but equally strong reactions to the death of a spouse. I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my story.
Linda Goldberg
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MLK USA May 29, 2016

Marriage Marriage to me is a soul life bonding . I do not believe in divorce . I have tried to research the Bible on the subject of divorce so far the Bible leads me to think I am correct .If anyone knows the correct answer please let me know . Having a child with your special partner is a blessing that is if you are able to have a child . Losing your partner to G-d is tragic . Reply

Laurel May 26, 2016

This was very moving for me. You are a wonderful writer. I have tears in my eyes. How lucky you are to have a wonderful family and Yoni. Reply

Anonymous florida May 15, 2016

Beautifully Written how beautiful. i too have a special needs grandchild and i also lost my husband a few months ago.
what we have now are our memories and most of all our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. they are all of them, very special. good luck to you. Reply

momof9 M.O. May 11, 2016

How we live makes a huge difference I lost my husband due to a car wreck almost 6 months ago. I was amazed about how full the funeral home was with people that I had never met that knew me. My husband always talked well about myself and our daughters. They told me about how he helped them in different ways and now they were coming to help us. I believe that my husband is still taking care of us because he stepped into help when most would have stepped out, and those that he stepped in for are stepping up to help us. Reply

Esther Liba NJ May 10, 2016

May G-d comfort you. It's impossible to read this without being affected. Sending my deep condolences to all of you on the loss of this lovely baal chesed. May his memory be for a blessing. Reply

farah sajid Pakistan May 10, 2016

Beautiful bless G-d family. Reply

S Uk May 9, 2016

Special Thank you, for sharing this special moment of remembrance I pray HaShem will continue to bless you and your family. Reply

Anonymous May 9, 2016

Beautiful and touching! Thanks for posting! Reply

Laurel Woodstick, NY May 9, 2016

This made me cry! How rewarding to have such a wonderful family and Yoni. Reply

fay janfaza Natick April 19, 2016

Beautiful. Very moving. Reply

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