Editor's Note: The following article was written by a woman who lost her eleven-year-old daughter, Tracey, in 1972, thirty-five years ago. This story is part of her healing process, and is told from the perspective of her daughter's best friend, Shoshana. Helen chose the following story as a way to envision her daughter’s everlasting memory and impact in this world. The anniversary of Tracey's death is on August 5th, the 25th of Av.

From the day we started school together, we knew that we would be best friends forever. My name is Shoshana and her name was Tracey, but I called her Tova and she called me Mindi. I do not know how we came upon these names, but they stuck.

We knew that we would be best friends foreverTova's family used to holiday in a cottage in Devon, and I was invited to join them there. I had never been so happy. Together with Tova’s sister and brother, we laughed and played and swam.

We collected seashells and allowed ourselves to become entranced by the different shapes and colors, and the sounds we heard when we held them to our ears. We collected seaweed too, and brought it back to the cottage. Tova said you could tell what the weather would be like from the seaweed.

I remember only endless sunny days, but one time we were playing on the beach and Tova wore a cardigan over her swimming suit and a beach towel around her shoulders. Her lips were blue, so it must have been cold, but we didn’t care.

After days spent playing until we fell, laughing in the sand, we would go to bed and talk for hours. We talked about getting married and having lots of children. Tova wanted six.

Tova did not care what other people thought of her. Sometimes in the winter when I was staying over, she would go to bed with a woolly hat and thick socks. She was the funniest sight, but she did not care how she looked. She felt cold and dressed accordingly.

Tova loved new things. One time her mother bought her new Wellington boots and she loved them so much that she went to bed with them on.

And then everything changed.

I can recall the day Tova died as if it were yesterday. I saw my mother crying. She told my father that they would have to go to the funeral. I couldn’t believe it. I was eleven years old, and I had never experienced a loss like that. I was in shock.

The last thing Tova saw was the police car that ran her down. The word “accident” had always meant to me something that could not be avoided, but how could this have been an accident if the policeman had been speeding? She had been such a careful girl. My mother used to say she would trust Tova with my baby sister. She would never run across a road and not look.

I hated that man. I had lost my best friend, and he was the reason. He took my Tova away. I would never see her smiling face again.

The school held a memorial service and I read out a piece of work Tova had written:


A painting of Tracey
A painting of Tracey
My name is Tracey. I am the second of three children. My older sister goes to a comprehensive school. She likes it, but they are rough. I enjoy work very much but I don’t like lessons always. My best lesson is swimming. I like fairy stories and I spend a lot of time reading. I don't know if I am friendly, but I have a best friend. At home my parents say I'm very helpful and I do what I am told. I am quiet. My parents say they do not know I am at home.

I would never see her smiling face againTova had worn braces on her teeth and she had gone to the orthodontist regularly. Afterwards, when I would think about Tova, I would think about what a waste of time that had been. All those visits to the dentists, all those appointments, and she never lived to see how lovely her teeth would look. What funny things went through my mind.

Recently, I visited Tova's grave and was moved by the inscription which read:
To most of us
A child is born
The lucky ones
We never mourn

How hard it is to lose a child. In a perfect world this would never happen. What did her parents do with all her toys and clothes? When you are eleven years old, you do not realize the trauma of having to think of things like that. Now, as a parent myself, I can't help thinking about Tova's parents and how terrible it was for them.

I have traveled the world since losing Tova, but my memories of holidays in Devon are still the happiest. The funny faces she used to make still have the power to make me laugh when I think of her. I only think of Tova as an eleven-year-old. She never grew old, and she is still eleven in my mind. She is my childhood, my happy memories, my early growing up. I made other friends, but a little piece of me is in that grave and always will be.

A few days ago, I was watching my children playing, and I started to talk to my husband about Tova and all the things I remember about my best friend.

He said that from all he's heard me say, the truest thing is that Tova is still very much alive if after all these years, I still talk about her. He is right. I will never forget her.

And though she was never able to fulfill her dream of getting married and having children, when I gave birth to our first baby, I named my little girl, Tova.