Six years ago, I wrote an essay about my friend Rivka. Actually, it was an essay about me and my own fears for Rivka as she was losing her battle against breast cancer. The essay, “Giving Fear a Time Out,” talked about how I was able to let go of my fears.

Not long before Rivka passed away, I attended the funeral of a wonderful woman, Shaindy, who had succumbed to cancer after years of fighting it. At the funeral, her teenage son recalledLife and death are in G‑d’s hands that at the end of Shaindy’s life, the machines she was hooked up to beeped louder and faster as her blood pressure dropped lower and lower. Surrounded by family members, many of them broke down crying. Shaindy’s husband, however, felt the Shechina, G‑d’s presence, in the room, and he said in a loud, clear voice the words we say at the end of Yom Kippur: “Hashem hu ha-Elokim, The L‑rd is G‑d.”

I was taken aback. Of course, I realized. Life and death—and everything in between—are in G‑d’s hands. He’s the One in control. Although I felt an overwhelming sadness for Shaindy and her family, her husband’s words allowed me to let go of my fears for my friend Rivka.

When the devastating news came that Rivka, too, had lost her battle, I was heartbroken but tried to see her passing as part of G‑d’s plan—difficult, rather impossible, as it was to understand.

Rivka had been so vibrant, so alive. She was an unusually wonderful woman, devoted to her family, to Israel and to many causes dear to her heart. It was hard to believe she was gone. She passed away on a Friday, and on Saturday night, 1,000 people joined her for her final journey.

A gemach (charity organization) called “Meneket RivkA” was set up in her memory to provide high-quality breast pumps for nursing mothers.

Each year on Rivka’s yahrtzeit, her husband Moshe organized a memorial evening in Jerusalem. After the first couple of years, I think many of us attending began to wonder, when will Moshe remarry? Of course, no one could really replace Rivka. But Rivka didn’t want him to be alone, and he deserved to find love again.

And he did.

A little over a year ago, a mutual friend suggested that Moshe meet Lisa, whose spouse had also been taken by cancer. As it turns out, Moshe knew who Lisa was, as her late husband Jeremy had been Moshe’s friend. Moshe and Jeremy had worked together during Jeremy’s last year. Also, Lisa and Rivka had been close friends.

Before long, the two knew they were meant for each other. They went out for several months before getting engaged, which gave their five children a chance to get to know one another and become used to the idea of a new, blended family.

Moshe and Lisa got married this past summer at the First Station (HaTachana HaRishona), the refurbished train station in the south of Jerusalem. Shut tight for many years, the old train station was recently renovated and turned into an outdoor mall, with trendy shops, restaurants and a large plaza in a place that was formerly neglected and empty. Visitors can even ride a small train around the station’s perimeter.

For Moshe and Lisa, marrying at the First Station was symbolic. They, too, experienced desolation and were rejuvenated when they found each other. They, too, took a step towards rebuilding a new life together at the spot of the rebuilt train station, a beautiful example of transformation.

At their wedding, before the customary breaking of the glass, Moshe spoke about the prophecy of Jeremiah, who predicted the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem, and also of their future rebirth. He quoted verses from Jeremiah, which are part of the weddingMarrying at the First Station was symbolic ceremony: “Thus said the L-rd: Yet again there shall be heard in this place, about which you say: It is a wasteland, without man and without animals—in the cities of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man and without animals and without inhabitant—the sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of the groom and the sound of the bride.” (Jeremiah 33:10-11)

Moshe went on to say: “That day has come.”

He concluded by talking about the breaking of the glass, which symbolizes our mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the ensuing 2,000 years of exile from our land. He added that it also symbolized for him and Lisa the loss of Rivka and Jeremy. “Our love for them and the pain of their absence serves to make our joy bittersweet, yet at the same time, and by the same token, it serves to make that joy so much more intense. May their memory be blessed.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

While everyone missed Rivka and Jeremy, they also felt tremendous joy and gratitude that Moshe and Lisa were able to find love again.

May they be blessed.

The happy couple
The happy couple