|My in-laws were blessed with 70 happy years together.|
Since one of my spiritual goals for the new year is to focus on the positive, even in a difficult situation, I recognized many brachot.
Once shiva began, there was a steady stream of visitors, most strangers to me, but all with a connection to my husband or one or more members of his family, most of whom have lived in the same area for close to 50 years.
I witnessed incredible chesed pour forth from this community. Spending so much time together, I discovered strengths in members of my husband's family that I hadn't fully appreciated in the past. And I was able to visit briefly with our daughter, my mother and my sister, along with her son and his new wife, all of whom came from other US cities to extend their condolences in person.
The visit was stuffed with difficult emotions. During my two weeks away, I felt bereft of Jerusalem. I didn't just miss home. I missed God's Presence, which I find harder to sense outside of Israel. I missed the company of people who share my worldview, the companionship of people who understand the sacrifices we (willingly) make to live where we understand that God has asked us to live.
It's common to hear talk about the financial sacrifices that life in Israel often requires. But today, at this stage of Jewish history, when aliyah often means living far from loved ones, my vote for the most difficult sacrifice of aliyah is the pain of saying goodbye to the people we love.
It's a pain that comes with death, but not only with death. It comes when we board our aliyah flight, but not only when we board our aliyah flight.
It comes, again and again, every time we get the chance to be together, however briefly.
It comes again, with every hug, and with every kiss, in which we must say goodbye.