Today we said goodbye to Mendel, again.

Early this morning….I made sure his coat was on straight, I covered him with an extra layer, just in case. I put a pillow down on the seat before putting him in the car, gently buckling the seat belt around him, to keep him safe. I kissed him, closed the door and as tears rolled down my face I waved good bye.
Mendel’s Torah was on its way back to North Carolina.

It doesn’t get easier. We have been saying goodbye to Mendel for 1,134 days now…. and I’ll tell you something, it hurts every time.

I find comfort in knowing that Mendel’s Torah will be surrounded by family, and a community that has come to love him.
We had the privilege and honor of having Mendel’s Torah with us for Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. And today we said goodbye, again.

When I was a girl I heard a song about post World War II refugees who found their way home to Vilna and gathered in the town shul looking for fellow survivors. Amidst the confusion someone called out “It is Simchas Torah Tonight!” As they allowed the joy of the day to creep into their broken hearts they realized that the Shul had been ransacked, there were no Torahs to dance with. Suddenly the cry of a young child was heard from the corner….. in the place of the Torah they would dance with this holy child. I remember being so emotional, the pain and the beauty of the scene was so vivid. I was just a girl then. Over the years I’ve listened to the song many times, but nothing, not a thousand songs about dancing with a child in place of a Torah, could possibly prepare me for dancing with a Torah in place of our child.

The emotions are not only hard to describe, they’re actually hard to feel. As I watched Daniel and Aryeh dance with Mendel’s Torah on Simchas Torah night I could feel my face contort, betraying any notion of dignity, twisting into a montage of emotions that I had no control over. I could not contain it all. Were we created to feel this much pain and this much love all at once? The anguish, the longing, the incredible gratitude that we feel, for what we had, for what we have. It is physically painful. It’s hard to breathe. As we carried him, danced with him, he was carrying us, dancing with us.
Holding Mendel’s Torah I was sure I could hear a heartbeat deep inside the words under the velvet coat. As if in a dream, “of course I’m here, I’ve been here the whole time.”

Today we said good bye to Mendel, again.
But he is here, always.