Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Class Reunion (Fictional)

As a Baal Teshuvah of almost 20 years, I often think of what my old classmates were up to. After 11th grade, I left public high school to join an all boys, black hat yeshiva. Sometimes I dream about going to a class reunion from my old public high school. I imagine dressing up in my finest clothes, getting a car wash and buying a new dress and a new sheital for my wife. I would pack my wallet with family pictures and tons of cash. Singles in the middle, Twenties on the outside. As I walk into the crowded room, with my wife by my side, I start to recognize familiar faces. Not the faces of my friends but of their parents.

I imagine that an old friend would walk up to me and ask “How have you been? Is this your wife?”
“Sure”, I would respond. “How have you been”, I would ask.
<Him>” Not too bad. Been married 2x, have 3 kids. I’ve been in and out of work for several years. What about you?”
<me> “Well I’ve been married for almost 13 years. I’ve been working for the same company for 9 years. Life has been great. He would ask, how many kids you have? And what’s with the Jewish thing?”

<me> I would stammer: “Well, you see…uh… it’s sort of complicated. I mean what exactly is your question? Do you mean how many kids do I have… you mean like currently or did I ever had…and if you mean have, what does it mean to have a child. The nightmare ends there and I wake up in a cold sweat. My daughter Nechama Liba passed away last summer, 3 days before her 11th birthday.”

Generally, when asked about a child’s age, assuming it is within a week of her birthday, you could say 11 or 10. But Nechama will never be eleven. To say she was 10 would take away from 11 plus months of her life. So Nechama will always be 3 days before her eleventh birthday.

As I look back over the last several years, from the time that Nechama became sick until her ultimate death. I have to wonder what got me through those difficult years. And on a deeper level, did my Jewish beliefs help or hurt me.


Anonymous asher brander said...


It's been such a long time and I don't even know if you remember me.
Rabbi Barry Nathan, who was in LA relayed to me the tragic news.

Shortly afterwards, I came across this blog and was deeply moved. I related some of its contents to a large group of 9th and 12th graders at a recent Shabbaton in Los Angeles. In particular your comment about Nechama Liba living with a smile "cemented" on her face had a tremendous roshem on the kids.

You have transcended worlds within your own lifetime.

May Hashem give you and your beautiful mishpacha the continued ability to inspire others through your probing machshavos that are so real and relatable.

Asher Brander

4:54 PM  

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