Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Aaron's Birthday - 2007: Blizzards

Twenty years ago today, the blizzard of '87 was a-blowing and two very young, very naive people were making their slow, perilous way to the hospital through the rapidly accumulating snow. One was heavily pregnant, eight days overdue and in active labor, the other was what could charitably be called a nervous wreck. A third person was also present, though not quite yet available for comment. One who fortunately delayed his emergence into the outside until his parents were safely - well, inside.

At 8:23 pm that evening, January 22, 1987, Aaron Michael Rosenfeld came into this world. One week later, he received his Jewish name, Aharon Elimelech, named for Debbie's great uncle Aharon (Archie) who had had a beracha under our chuppah, and for my mother's father Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Hertzberg.

A few days later, three came to the home which only two had recently departed. Where once had been a couple, there was now a family. More babies would follow in due time, three more wonderful blessings from God. But Aaron was our first, our oldest, the child who changed forever the very way Debbie and I defined ourselves.

Now, almost two years after Aaron's sudden passing, it's hard to believe that he would be turning twenty today. Entering his twenties, his third decade. Nearly the age his mother was when we met, if that can be believed. Try as I might, I can't picture a fully adult Aaron, an Aaron starting to date "seriously" as some of his classmates are already doing. An Aaron starting a home and family of his own. He will forever be frozen in my mind at the age I last knew him, eighteen years, three months, twenty three too-short days.

I just finished re-reading last year's Aaron's birthday post, as well as Debbie's followup guest-post. It was, of course, the first birthday since his loss, and at the time, I had quite a lot to say, so much to get off my chest and so many wonderful stories to share. I urge readers new and old to re-read those posts, relive the happy memories with me, add additional comments if you wish.

I had hoped to post many more Aaron stories this year, to perpetuate these joyous recollections as an annual celebration of his birth. But sadly, the words and memories are just not coming today. It's as if my thoughts and emotions have gone numb, have been encased in ice.

Once again, like twenty years ago, a blizzard has come along with Aaron's birthday, this time emotional rather than meteorological.

If some new reminiscences shake themselves loose, if more stories not yet shared come to my frozen mind, I will add to this post in the comments. But for now, I wish my absent boy a happy birthday, and close with the words of another bereaved father:

"Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven...

Beyond the door,
There's peace I'm sure,
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven."
- Eric Clapton, "Tears In Heaven"

Added 1/23: As per the comments, here are a few stories we remembered last night.

Taking Matters In Your Own Teeth:Aaron was a very late walker, though an early talker. By age one he was speaking in full sentences, but he didn't walk until close to two. Somewhere in the middle of his second year, Debbie went to visit her friend who had a boy just Aaron's age. This child, "Shimon", was just the opposite of Aaron; he could run around the house but didn't talk much yet. The kids played in the background while Debbie and her friend talked. At some point Shimon apparently realized that Aaron couldn't run around the house like he could, and commenced running up to him and then running away, while Aaron was stuck on the floor unable to follow. Aaron obviously found this rather rude, because on one of these pass-bys, he bit Shimon on the leg! That quickly put an end to Shimon's taunting - and ended the playdate!

Guilt Trips Start Early: When Aaron was three, we bought him his first Disney movie: Bambi. He used to watch it frequently and learned many of the lines by heart. At around this time, Debbie went back to work two afternoons a week as a Hebrew School teacher. Even this minimal absence was not to Aaron's liking! One evening, we were watching the movie and came to the scene where Bambi's mother is shot, and then Bambi's father appears and says sternly "Your mother can't be with you anymore!!" Aaron immediately piped up "She went to Hebrew School!"

Emily Post - Aaron Style: By age four of five, Aaron had already developed a strong sense of etiquette. He once explained to us how to handle a situation where someone offers you food that you don't care for. "You shouldn't tell them you don't like the food. You should just say that you can't eat it because it makes you throw up!"


At 1/22/07, 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


No new stories perhaps, but still a heartrending post. I imagine that Aaron will stay 18ish in the hearts and minds of all of us who knew him as we we g-d willing have the good fortune to grow old. Chazak V'ematz.


At 1/23/07, 12:09 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...


I suspect that in time more stories will come to mind. It may be bittersweet, but hopefully the sweet will totally outweigh the bitter.

At 1/23/07, 8:56 AM, Anonymous Pearl said...

Elie, Aaron made you and Debbie parents. The "bechor" always holds a special place.

You and Debbie made Aaron the special young man that he was.

You were gifts for each other. So it is easily understandable how each day, especially a day as special as a Hebrew or English birthday, is difficult to get through.

A happy birthday to a special young man...

At 1/23/07, 3:10 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Esther, Jack, and Pearl: Thanks. I'm doing better today. And in talking with Debbie and the kids last night we remembered a few cute "baby Aaron" stories that I hadn't shared yet, and I'll be adding them shortly.

At 1/23/07, 10:57 PM, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Reb Elie,

How poignant these words of yours are:

"Try as I might, I can't picture a fully adult Aaron, an Aaron starting to date "seriously" as some of his classmates are already doing. An Aaron starting a home and family of his own. He will forever be frozen in my mind at the age I last knew him, eighteen years, three months, twenty three too-short days."

They remind me of the truism so agonizingly bittersweet that whilst we age, our sons do not-never to marry, never to be dads ... as time distance lengthens, may our grasp always remain strong, their passings as urgent tomorrow as they were yesterday.

I remain,

Very Sincerely Yours,

Alan D. Busch

At 1/24/07, 12:33 AM, Blogger Tova said...

Once again, a beautiful and moving post. I have no words. We think of Aaron every day.

At 1/27/07, 8:02 PM, Blogger Chana said...

Heartfelt and moving words. May these memories continue to bring comfort to you.


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