It was eleven years ago, a man I was so close to was suddenly sick, in pain. His always energetic demeanor was tamed and subdued. He would sit at the head of the table in our seaside home in Brooklyn studying Torah. It was not much different than a normal day in his own home, though I could see it was much more difficult for him to concentrate on the studies.

That summer I went back to camp, after an interruption of several years. This time as a Torah instructor for a group of campers. Every year he would come to this camp to spend a Shabbat, and he would deliver a scholarly Talmudic talk. I was looking forward to see him and speak to him.

A few days before camp he gave me a special present that demonstrated the personal attention he paid to what I took an interest in. It was a treasure to him and it would be a treasure to me.

My grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Meir Bukiet, was the dean of a yeshivah, where he would deliver a daily class on Talmud. He had a unique and special style, his former students tell me. They speak about the great interest he took in them, as individuals, and the encouragement he always dispensed.

How much could you have done if you were still alive? In anticipation of what would be his visit to the camp, I had planned to tell him that for the first time I was giving a class to young students. I wanted him to share in my happiness; no one else would be as happy to hear this news as him.

He wasn't feeling well, I was told. That is all I was told.

He never did come. I never showed him my beloved students.

On the way back from camp, I was told for the first time about the gravity of his situation. I immediately set out to visit him.

I did not say a word for the duration of the 45 minute trip. I had no words. It was a meeting that I was not looking forward to. It would be painful.

My grandfather delivering a scholarly talk
My grandfather delivering a scholarly talk
The man I so looked up to. The man I learnt with daily for the past three years. Would we be able to continue?

He could not sleep much from the pain. We did not learn much. We did talk a lot; he shared with me a lot of insights on what he wanted life to look like.

He was a fighter and I knew that he would do his best to pull through. He tried his best to continue his daily life. He did so for as long as his body let him. It lasted a few months and then he passed on.

I was not near his bed when he passed away. I did not experience that closeness. He was, however, surrounded by many of his children and grandchildren.

He passed away with me taking to heart all that we spoke about. For me, he never died; he is still alive in my heart, I think about him often. The dreams he had for me, I am sure he knows, are still unfolding; I work on them every day.

As I take my young Chaim Meir, his namesake, to give a kiss to a picture of his great-grandfather, I feel that I am conveying to him a message; letting him know that he is still alive within us, in the four walls of our home.

This past Chanukah we danced in a circle. I know that he would have joined in the dance with his unique enthusiasm.

I would have done anything to have that one last dance with you. Who would not have?

You touched so many hearts with your warm soul. How much could you have done if you were still alive?

I know there is a reason, one that I cannot understand.

Now I am trying to emulate you and learn from what you taught me.


Grandma, Esther Zissel bat Malkah, and I on my wedding day
Grandma, Esther Zissel bat Malkah, and I on my wedding day
Today I am on the way to Florida; not for vacation, not to sit on the beach.

This time I already knew on the way to the airport what the situation is. I understand today that which I did not understand years ago.

As I board the plane, my dear grandmother is in the hospital, surrounded by her children. I had just seen her at the engagement party of her grandson, my cousin.

I have not come to say goodbye. Bubby, Grandma, I know you will be there to greet me at the door with a hug.

You know that you are not needed in heaven. We need you here below. There is so much more for you still to do.

You are still young. My kids are looking forward to their next Wednesday night, when we will gather around the table in your home for our traditional family get together.

It is your smile, your wise advice, that I need now. There is still a lot more to be done in our world. Sheinah, our three month old baby, would like you to hold her. Motti wants to see you. Meir wants your hug.

Life is not simple and you have assisted me through its many dark alleyways. You did it as only a wise grandmother can. I still need you.

There is still a lot more to be done in our world. Those you always helped still need you. All the good that you do needs to be continued. The world still needs to be perfected with G‑d's Torah and His precepts. All that cannot be done from heaven...

It could be tiring, but you never gave up.

I know that you will not give up now.

Tell G‑d in heaven that you need to work on making this world into a dwelling place for Him. Tell Him you have people waiting for you here below.

I know that is what I am praying for. That is what so many who know you are praying for.

The plane is on its way down. I know that I will call your son and he will tell me to come by the house, instead of heading out to the hospital, and you will be there sitting on the couch telling your stories and giving your much-needed advice.

I look forward to printing out this article for you to enjoy, like you always tell me you do.