“Turn your head towards the sun,” my mother would tell us as we stood shivering in our sandy towels, the sea water still threading small rivulets down our backs, “wrap your towel tight and look at the sun.” And so we would, small snub noses browned by days of beach play and water fun. Upturned towards that British sun, which although seemed watery and would often hide behind clouds (bringing random outbursts of rain to our August “holiday” experience) turned out to be just as strong a sun as anywhere else in the world.

And so I learned from an early age that the sun was warmth, goodness, light.

I chased that light as I grew older. TheI chased that light as I grew older sun remained a fixture suspended every day in the sky. A constant. Much like the love, care and nurturing of parents to a child. Its warmth caressed me, and allowed me to grow and thrive, tempered with rays of care and understanding.

Acceptance. It was unlimited devotion yet stayed far enough to yield in its power of fire and burning.

That sun was a constant, yet often, it was obscured by clouds—sometimes covered up so heavily that it disappeared. Storm and darkness reigned, sucking life, sucking warmth, sucking light. The sun, so powerful, succumbing to elements of despair and malaise. Hail and ferocious winds beating the sun into submission.

And the light would go.

Come and go, come and go.

I knew each time it went that it would come back. And so I waited and looked.

But searching for light is tiring. It shattered and exhausted me. When the bouts of light were rampant and plentiful, and the darkness secluded and rare, the light stayed with me in those moments and willed me to wait patiently for its reappearance. But then the storms started to outweigh the sun in their magnitude and in their frequency.

I grew tired of the clouds. Started harboring doubts about the light.

Then as dark as I thought the world could get, it started to get even darker.

The coronavirus arrived.

I used to wonder about that mysterious, multiple-needle edged ball. What are you, corona? How do you look? Where are you hiding? Are you waiting outside that door? Creeping up in the dead of night or sauntering along in broad daylight? Are you green? Red? Black?

Do you feel satisfaction when you knock out another one of us or are you saddened, forced by a higher power to keep going?

There seemed to be a thick layer of despondency in those early days. The fear of the unknown. The uncertainty. The lack of control. The missing information. The anxiety mounting as the death toll rose.

Darkness everywhere.

Exile had never seemed more endless.

Within the heavy darkness, I still searched for light. I trusted my sun was there. Hiding behind a cloud, perhaps a very thick one, waiting for the storm to blow out. There were so many signs it was so. The sun was sending warming signals whenever it could, and I reached out to grasp those wavering rays of its light, waiting for the full brightness to appear.

I started to believe in the idea of Moshiach in a very real way. Was this it? Was the redemption finally coming?

Only it didn’t. Days and weeks and months of intensifying darkness. Days and weeks of months of unfaltering faith. A faith that hadn’t been very strong to begin with, rising with new vigor and vitality.

My father took ill and was taken to the hospital. Intubated. Critical state. We almost despaired, yet I held on to the faith. There must be a story here—a storm to end all storms followed by a light to blind all those who merit to see it.

I kept on searching for my light. I told my girls to pray at candle-lighting. I told them to give extra tzedakah, “charity.” I told them to say “amen” after a blessing. I told them we would make packages of flowers and challah for those who lived alone to bring some light to them, so that we would find our own. And even when inside me the search for light struggled to remain strong, I continued for them.

Each week, I had them accompany me to give out our packages. Each week, they watched me create 18 bouquets—for life, I told them. Each week we spoke to my father—first when he was completely unaware that we were speaking to him, and finally, after days and days, with him responding.

The light was emerging.

On theThe light was shining; I wanted them to see it day he returned home, I showed them the videos, the dancing and the music. The light was shining; I wanted them to see it. To see that our prayers can have an effect, to see the power we hold—we can do it, girls! We can hold onto our faith that the light will return. We can trust that there is Someone listening to our prayers.

Perhaps I had needed my light to be so starkly hidden for me to understand its brilliance. Perhaps I had to experience the power of trust and faith to strengthen the doubts inside of me.

Perhaps now I would fully believe in the complete redemption.

On that day, 10 weeks from his initial admittance, the light shone brighter than it ever had in my heart. I turned my face toward its warmth and basked in its rays.