Sunday night, we were privileged to share in the wedding of a child from the yishuv. The night was magical and beautiful, as most weddings are. It was made even that much more special considering what this family had been through.
Five and a half years ago, we stood in the plaza outside of our main shul and watched them say goodbye to their 4 year old son and brother. Pinny, the father, was literally held up by his brothers throughout that terrible afternoon.
This week, he was held up once again by his family, but in joy, in dancing and in anticipation of a bright future for his daughter.
Five and a half years ago, I sat with Chanan’s mother, Tzippy, at shiva and wondered how a parent endures such pain.
Sunday, I watched her as she stood under the chuppah, beaming as her own father came up to give the bride and groom a blessing.
Last year, we went to the cemetery for the anniversary of Chanan’s death. While Pinny talked about his son, his 2 year old daughter played by the grave. She collected pebbles that she stacked; she danced around; and she jumped from one point to the next. At some point, while her father was talking, someone tried to get her to stop and to pay attention.
“No,” said Tzippy. “Let her be.”
And this time, I watched as she played again, but now she did so with a woven basket used to sprinkle the aisle with shiny gold decorations. During the ceremony, she placed the basket on her head, she shook it about and she giggled.
I could only imagine that those giggles were reaching the brother that she never met.
People are forced to deal with terrible tragedy. It’s all around us.
What has been inspiring, however, is to watch how this family has done so. The amazing lesson for me has been to see the openness about them, the unswerving determination to stay together, to communicate, and to grieve through the pain while always looking for the way through.
And what a gift to share in their joy, rather than in their pain, as they watched the first of their children build her own home and her own future surrounding by the family with whom she has endured so much.