Every time the phone rang for the past two weeks, my whole body tensed. But not any more. The call has already come early this morning. Bubbie is gone.

It's not that it has come as a surprise to anyone. She was nearing ninety, and had been telling us for years, in her spunky joking way, that she was dying.

The last few weeks had seen her rapid decline. She ate nothing, said very little, but made it clear that she still wanted to live.

She still wanted to live She was the matriarch of the family, full of recipes and stories for whoever wanted to hear them. When my husband first brought me to meet her, he told me: "Bubbie- she's the real thing. She cooks matzah balls, crochets blankets for the homeless, and goes to the salon every week to have her hair and nails done. You'll love her!"

He was right, I loved her. Later that day we were driving into the city on some errand or another. I just remember my husband and Bubbie singing at the top of their lungs, song after song. I never met anyone like her. Quick with a Yiddish curse whenever she deemed it fit, yet everyone- and I mean everyone, from the janitor in the shul to the waiters in the restaurants- knew her as Bubbie, and greeted her with a big smile.

My mother-in-law comes downstairs. What can I say to her? She has just lost her mother. I have nothing to say. I hug her. We cry.

We had been living with my in-laws for the past seven months to deal with a medical condition that the doctors in our hometown in Israel had been stumped by. My husband's family felt very much like my own, and Bubbie had been my bubbie as well.

That day went by quickly- I don't remember much.

Then the funeral. So many people came, all kinds of them. She had touched so many lives, many more than she realized. As various people spoke about who Bubbie was, I sat and cried. She had lived a long full life, there was no shock in her passing. She herself had told Uncle Irving that he'd better not go on vacation, or he'd miss her funeral. She had even told her daughter to go and get a haircut so she'd look like a mentsch at the funeral! Bubbie was a character, and she knew that it was her time.

So why couldn't I stop crying?

What got me that day was how very fine the threshold is between life, and beyond life Looking back, I think that what got me that day was how very fine the threshold is between life, and beyond life. You cannot deny that life is not forever when you are at a funeral, no matter how old the person was who passed away. Now that person is gone, and someday I'll be going there too. Who will make the speeches then? What will they say? And is the place that we go to the same place we come from? And if the threshold is so fine that one can pass over it from one moment to the next, than how close are we to that other reality? In such moments it is so clear that there must be Something greater, and the soul yearns for it.

After the funeral many people accompanied us back to the house. The family was all there: brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins, and more. It seemed that Bubbie's shiva would be very much like she was, a celebration of life. I kept on thinking how much she would have enjoyed being there!

But my day wasn't over. It was my mikva night. I have heard many times that when there are the most obstacles to make it to the mikva, it is a time when it is possible to bring down a very high and holy soul. I was in such a vulnerable place, feeling somewhat transparent as I excused myself and drove over to the mikva. The Rebbetzin greeted me warmly at the door. It was hard to talk; I felt I might just start crying all over again. The preparations took a lot longer than usual, as if there were many layers that had to be peeled off before I could return to the essence of who I am and immerse in pure waters.

Water. In the story of creation it never says that G‑d created water. It says that He divided the waters and put them into their borders. It says that the spirit of G‑d rested upon the water. It's almost as if the waters of creation were the amniotic fluid of the birth of the world. Stepping into the mikva is going back into those waters. Water is timeless, going about its cycle of falling upon the earth in one form, and then rising back up to the skies in another. Are we in our essence the same?

As I stepped into the mikva I felt my heart about to burst. Pain, joy, the intensity of life. And of death. I prayed for Bubbie and for myself. For my husband and children, my parents and siblings, may they all live and be well. I prayed for all of the lonely sad people who feet so intensely the lack of G‑dliness in their lives, but don't know how to fill the gap. I prayed for all of the holy people who feel the presence of G‑d and struggle in the realm down here. I prayed to go home, and for all of the people who are searching for a home for their souls, that they may find it. I prayed for health and for life. I prayed for forgiveness of my past, and the realization of my hopes for my future. The tears ran into the mikva, just as hot as the water I was standing in. I prayed for the Rebbetzin who, after a long hard day of teaching, mothering, and "rebbetzining" had waited patiently for two hours as I prepared myself, knowing that she and her family were going through their own personal saga at home. I prayed for a redemption big enough to heal the whole world and everyone in it. I prayed and cried, and immersed myself in the waters again and again.

"And the spirit of G‑d rested upon the water."

After what seemed like forever I finally felt ready to be reborn into the world, and I emerged. The Rebbetzin blessed me, and it seemed that she had been crying and praying right along with me. G‑d bless her.

I returned home and completed the shiva with the family. So many beautiful stories were told. So many beautiful moments of family and friends, old and young- praying, living and laughing together.

About a month later we returned home. We are glad to have been there for the time that we were, and even happier to be living as our own family unit back in the Holy Land. As I sit here writing this story I am grateful to G‑d for the fulfillment of my prayers. We are home, and we are healthy. There is new life growing within me. I continue to pray for the rest, and for the wellbeing of this unborn soul, and that the spirit of G‑d rest upon the waters.