AFTER 4 YEARS
Four years have passed. You would think that with time the pain would be easier to bear. It turns out not to be true. Each night I fall asleep crying opposite the empty pillow. Each morning I awake and put out my hand to see if you’re there – and touch only empty air. Each day I get up and watch the tears flowing in the mirror.
And still I continue to function, I comb my hair, put on make-up, and paste a smile on my face, so that people won’t see. Just the body has begun to falter – here a slight stroke, there a small lump, here a frightening hemorrhage, or an unexplained blemish. But meanwhile I overcome it all and continue on.
We gather here today the immediate family and a number of dear friends to tell you again how much we love you and miss you.
See how proud we can be of all them: Our children are all doing well (Ori’s company is prospering and he bought a yacht, Rachel is planning to take her Master’s Degree, Alon finished his Bachelor’s Degree with flying colors, Asaf is rising steadily in the firm where he works). Our grandchildren, each one prettier than the other, are progressing so well (Saffron will be finishing High School with outstanding marks and is planning to continue on to the University. She has a steady boyfriend. Renee and Ofek are doing well in excellent High Schools, Noah and Thomas work hard at their studies and also participate in many extracurricular activities, Yoav, who isn’t even in Kindergarten as yet, already knows how to read and write a little as well as some arithmetic). Shirli will be giving birth next month, another grandchild you didn’t live to see.
And now I would like to read a poem that Rachel sent me which expresses much better than I can what I feel:
Should I be the first to die,
Don’t let sorrow darken your horizon.
Be brave, but modest in your grief.
There’s been a change, but I haven’t gone.
Such as death is part of life,
So do the dead live forever in those left behind.
And all those treasures that we gathered on our journey,
The moments we shared, the mysteries we probed,
Layers of intimacy we built and cherished,
The things that made us laugh or cry or sing,
The joy of snow lit by the sun, or the blossom of spring,
The wordless tongue of sight and touch,
Each giving, each receiving,
Are not flowers that wither,
Nor trees that fall and crumble, nor are they stones,
For even a stone cannot withstand the wind and rain
And mountain peaks will wear away to dust.
What we were is what we are.
What we had is what we have,
A common past, a never-ending present.
And when you walk the forest that we walked together
And you seek my shadow on the bank next to you
And you stop at the point we always stood
High on the hill to survey the view,
And you see something,
And like always put out your hand to take mine,
And when you find nothing, and you feel sorrow engulf you,
Close you eyes.
Take a deep breath...
And listen to the sound of my footsteps in your heart.
I haven’t gone, here I am walking within you.
My love, keep watch over us from the place you are there above, as you always used to. We love you and shall love you forever.
AFTER 3 YEARS
Three years have passed. I could have easily read what I write last year. Nothing has changed – the same emptiness, the same yearning. Just that everything is a bit slower, a slight more difficult.
I awake in the morning, shove the pain under my blouse, and tie on a smile with my facial cream, and thus I survive the day. But every touch however light – a word, a sight, a song - and my throat contracts and tears well up in my eyes. Everything reminds me of you and there is no moment that you are not with me.
I find that I measure myself by your standards - if I blurt out a misplaced word I can see your mouth contract. If I do something that I know you would have liked, I can see the encouraging fondness in your eyes and almost feel your warm embrace.
I have begun to do things that we had planned to do together but didn’t manage – a journey to Poland, a visit to a concert in Abu Gosh – and you are always inside me. But there are things that we planned that I can’t see myself doing without you. It seems that among others, China and Australia will have to manage without me.
I don’t have many friends, but the few are many, and help me to function. Our children, our sons and daughters in law, our grandchildren envelop me with love and consideration far beyond my expectations. You would have been so proud of them – how they have grown, how they have developed, how they have progressed.
And they all miss you – and long for you with the same yearning. They talk about you a lot, and fondly reminisce about many things – expressions you used, food you liked, pictures of life with you.
Rest in peace, my husband, quiet and tranquil. I love you, and I always shall, until the day I die, and return once again to lie at your side in the nights.
After two years
How quickly two years have passed, and yet each day like
an eternity! They say time heals – it’s not
true! The pain remains the same, only more oppressive,
and the longing remains the same, only deeper.
And I miss you so much – I miss your gentle voice,
your pleasant smell, the touch of your hand, the soft
place on your right shoulder that exactly fit my head
when I was sad, your warm comforting embrace, how you
used to call me “Woman” like Tarzan because
you knew I was all yours. I miss your adoration – “See
how she laughs with all her mouth!” and your telephone
calls tens of times a day just to see how I feel.
A day doesn't go by that I don’t cry.
I cry opposite the mirror in the morning knowing another
day is beginning without you, I cry at noontime on the
way home because you’re not there to hold my bike,
I cry when I come home in the evening and you’re
not there to embrace me, I cry at night opposite the
empty pillow. I cry every time something breaks in the
house and you’re not there to fix it. I cry on
the bus because you’re not holding my hand. Whenever
I used to cry over small insults you would say – don’t
cry over nonsense, cry for me when I’m gone. If
only you knew how much I’m crying now.
So many things remind me of you, and I feel a choking
in my throat and tears spring to my eyes – a song
on the radio we used to like, the name of a place that
we were there together, or the mention of someone we
both knew and I would so much like to tell you what was
said about him.
And yet I function, I work, I study, I go out to concerts
and plays, I spend time with friends. I mange to do many
things that you used to do before - I throw out the laundry,
I change a light bulb, I work in the garden, I clean
cobwebs, I paint the front bench, I even change the bedding.
I am proud of our children and their spouses. They are
all honest and upright, each one successful in his own
field, good parents, and what was always so important
to us – love each other. And I have tons of satisfaction
from our grandchildren – they are all enchanting,
they are all beautiful, each one a pearl. They are sure
of my love and give me theirs in return.
And even so, when you left, a deep chasm opened within
me which the days and the tears don’t fill – and
I, like the old man in the incubator in Mair Shalev’s
book “Fontanella” am biding the time from
the day of your death to the day of mine.
Rest in peace, my love, serene and tranquil – and
wait for me. I’ll be there.
Eulogies at the Memorial
Your “ not here” is so much there, and the void you
left is hard to fill.
The lack of you seeps slowly into a sorrow whose level threatens
A year has passed –in a myriad of seconds, minutes, nights
and days that will never be the same.
We have changed definition –“ your orphans” is
now our new name.
There is a feeling that all is crumbling – that things
that were will be no more.
And wherever you look hangs a sign – “We’re
closed. The last one out please shut the door”.
We have no good news to tell you in this letter, the world
we knew has not gotten better,
War, poverty and obtuseness in a pageant unseen, flickers before
our eyes upon the screen,
The Kibbutz we loved has gotten lost, and Meretz plans to bring
peace at any cost.
People walk as if in a mist with hands stretched out a light
We live our lives at a chaotic pace, working hard to bring
a salary that tends to dwindle.
And the hope that “when we grow up all will be great,
you’ll see!!” is just a dream that will never be.
And you are so lacking with your wonderful smile and the light
in your eye,
with an encouraging word to push ahead, in the knowledge that
we’ll get by.
Your vision, your belief, your tenacity and ability to hold
on to what is right
You’ve taken with you in the dark of night. Oh, Dad,
it’s for you we yearn – won’t you please
We continue on, and try to keep you in our memory all the while
And from our “Tool Box” we draw your vision, your
embrace and your engaging smile.
And then from out of the mist, and the pain, and your absence
that will ache till eternity,
A bright light engulfs us, and a calm serenity.
So Dad of ours, take good care of yourself as if you were here
because we love you ever so much and will hold you forever
Ori, Rachel, Alon, Asaf
and all your family
||A year without David -
They say that time heals, sometimes maybe, but not here.
Time does not fill the void,
You learn to live differently, to get along without,
But the lack turns into a never ending entity,
an entity of loss that accompanies us all the way.
A year without David – the world remains as chaotic as usual,
without peace, without economy, and without David.
We continue our Kibbutz endeavors, we go forward and fall,
a step or a step and a half at a time, not more.
You as one of the foundations of our Kibbutz home
Accompany us in our efforts,
And your voice will always be there to greet us
On all occasions with “All is quiet and calm”.
The words of Eyal Tidhar –(David was his Kibbutz leader)
At the unveiling - December 2003
|| Dear Grandpa
The year passed so quickly,
And we miss you so much.
You filled a significant role in our lives,
And you taught us things of importance.
You are the best grandpa in the world,
You were always there to take care of us all,
And for this we thank you,
And are proud to be your grandchildren.
We love you and we miss you,
Saffron, Renee, Ofek, Sean, Noa, Thomas, and Yoav
Eulogies at the Graveside
The Negev fields await blessed rain
And someone up above was waiting for you
Yesterday you were alive and so much ours
And today we say goodbye – because you leave us.
We love you, Dad, and we always shall
Because you had a pure soul and a heart of gold
And all you wanted was to create a better world for us
And sought a way to fulfill this one dream, no more.
You taught us that all men are equal, whoever they may be
And we are all obligated to each other, even with no ties of blood
That equality, fraternity, and friendship are not mere slogans
And you had room in your heart for all pains and a shoulder to bare
You had a sense of humor and a twinkle in your eye
And always knew when to embrace, or put your hand on one’s
And you would ask – “What’s new son?” – or
warn “Drive carefully!”
And you tried to fulfill all our requests as soon as you could.
It was so important to you that we should not squabble or be angry
Because all we have is each other and we must preserve this unity
without hurting each other
You always made us believe that we were the best children in the
And tried to be the most perfect Dad.
Mom was always in first place with you, “Yaf” you would
And the love between you was magnificent – and not by chance
Because Mom let you go ahead and save the world
And you were sure she was always waiting when you were done.
We are so sad and only two days have passed
Who will smile and tell me – “Rochele, so much heaven
And Asaf and Shirli’s baby missed you and you never got to
And you were waiting for the day he’d be born.
Dear Dad, we are proud of you and what you were for us
You have a strong and united family as you taught us to be
All your grandchildren adore you and their hearts are broken with
And everyone who came today loved you so much.
Your journey is over, you were tired, the revolutions ended, the
dreams grow distant
Your loving heart grew weary and you craved only rest, to reach home
We shall always remember you – and our longing for you is painful
Go in peace – and may all forever be “Calm and Tranquil.”
From us: Ori, Rachel, Alon, and Asaf
And all your Family
Till your dying day you believed with all conviction
in the Socialist ideals of the Kibbutz and the Cuban Revolution. These ideals
were embedded within
you when you were still a young boy in the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement
in Havana nearly 60 years ago.
I recall the summer camps in the exquisite Cuban scenery, receiving the Sabbath
in what we called “Oneg Shabbat”, the multifold activities Saturday
afternoons and Sunday evenings, first as novices and later as leaders, the ceremonious
line-ups – even in Hebrew – before each activity, how we would sing
songs about the land of Israel in Hebrew and not understand a single word.
Do you remember how we would court the girls and
how we accompanied them home at night? How we argued with the members of the
Communist Party who accepted
our Socialism but rejected Zionism as a legitimate Jewish National Redemption
Together we grew up in the movement, we passed all the stages and eagerly anticipated
the day when we would fulfill our Zionist dreams in the land of Israel.
I see before my eyes the enlarged photos taken at the ceremony and the ensuing
party, with the Jewish community attending, when the leadership of the Havana
Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement was passed on to you, when we, the older group,
left for the training farm in the States. I remember leaving you my machete because
I couldn’t take it with me to America. How young, how fair, so long of
hair do we look in those photos!
Our ways parted for a while. You went to study
in Jerusalem in the Institute for Zionist Youth Leaders Aroad. And upon your
return to Cuba continued to the
training farm in the U.S. (I already immigrated to Israel). At the farm you met
Yaffa, the love of your life, a love that in tens of years never faded, until
your heart stood still.
You wed and in Israel joined Yaffa’s Kibbutz,
Nachshon. There, it seems, you missed the Cubans in Dvir and in 1961 came to
join us. Here you raised a
For many years we worked together in the dairy barn. There you taught me how
to milk by hand during the “Yom Kippur War.” Then with only one other
member, we milked the cows three times a day for several weeks.
You had to leave the barn for reasons of health, so you set up a new branch,
which you named “The Little Carpentry Shop.” But in those years,
your most dominant task was the political activity you did for the party, first
Mapam and then later Meretz. Every election you were called up to do all the
dreary work behind the scenes, to unite and strengthen the party in Beer Sheva.
All your life you accompanied the Cuban Revolution, as did we all. But, you invested
your time and energy and always hosted delegations from Cuba. You established
relations with key figures in the Cuban Regime, and were active in the renewed
immigration of Cuban Jewry to Israel. You represented “Mapam and Meretz” in
international congresses and conventions. You returned home from your last convention
in Cuba just a few weeks ago.
It is difficult to sum up so many years on this
small page, a period which covers nearly all our adult life. Now we must part,
after a long and continuous trail
together. Parting has always been difficult for me, and this time especially.
The national Cuban poet, Jose Marti, wrote in one
of his poems:
She entered the river
in the late hours
The doctor withdrew
her lifeless body
Cold – was the cause of death – he
But I knew she died
because of love.
I don’t know if David’s heart gave out only for physical reasons,
or was broken by the path the Kibbutz and the Cuban Revolution was taking at
Rest in Peace “Pata de palo”
||I came to lay a testament stone to DAVID
A testament to the name given him by the Lord and by his Father and
A testament to his smile and stature
A testament to his apparel and to the way he walked
A testament to the inner voice that told him: Go forth! … And
he went forth.
He walked among the clay-loam hills and dust of the Negev
He walked among clumps of soil and the bevy of man.
A testament to the giving without compensation,
who’s only reward is in the giving itself
A testament to the fine home he built on the hill with Yaffa
A testament to his diligence, and his desire to learn
and his ability to grow and to give.
A testament to the bridge of fellowship and fraternity he built with his comrades
over the seas
– in the land of rivers and palm trees.
A testament that he heard the voice calling – “Where art thou?”
And he forcefully replied: “I AM my brothers’ keeper.”
Those brothers whom he embraced with deeds of charity and benevolence,
and lifted them up to his own height
A testament to his loyal, determined and generous soul
A testament to the heavens that voice the dignity of David, the man
A testament to the Jew from the land of Israel
Who soiled himself with the dust of the feet of man
A testament to his deeds which held a hidden vision
Simple, mundane, everyday acts – acts of peace and goodwill….
Be strong and courageous”, David, my brother
Be strong and we shall be strengthened.
Words written by Aaron (Archie) Brum
Leader in the Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement