Aaron: Two Years Gone
"Another year has passed me by
Still I look at myself and cry
What kind of man have I become?"
- Styx, "Man In The Wilderness"
Today marked two years, on the secular calendar, since you left us. Can it really have been that long ago? Can it really have been that recently?
In many areas, our family has moved ahead from where you last saw us. We own a car you never got to ride in, many books you never read and movies you never watched. Bubby has a dog who never got to lick your hand. A new bed was purchased for your room in the basement, the room cleaned out and rearranged so that others could bear to use it. Ben has a new summer job - ironically, in the restaurant that first opened the very weekend you were in the hospital. Mom started that therapy private practice she always talked about. And most importantly, there are, Baruch Hashem, new cousins on both sides of the family, including one who now carries on your name.
But with all those changes, I have not been able to escape a feeling of stagnancy, of inertia. Your yearbook picture hangs on the wall, sits on my desk, stares at me from the top of this very blog. It will never change, never be replaced with an older, subtly different view. And a big piece of my heart has remained in that snapshot's place and time as well. Watching your brothers and sister changing and growing over these past two years has brought with it a terribly confusing mix of emotions. Like any parent, I feel joy at their successes, pride at each new achievement. Yet at the same time, there is also a heightened sorrow, a sharper pang, with each reminder that all the promise you showed, all your dreams and ambitions and goals, were cut off forever. Sometimes - and I'm not proud to admit it - it makes it easier for me to pretend that we all just halted, frozen in the position we were before that horrible moment two years ago when a doctor's grim report shattered everything.
Now, Aaron, I've come to a crossroads. For the first time, one of your siblings is ready to embark on a path that carries him beyond the place you had reached. Ben is about to graduate high school, that momentous event scheduled for June 10th. He leaves for his senior trip just twelve days from now. It has been utterly impossible for me to stop thinking, even for a second, about how we discovered your illness just two days before your own senior trip was to begin, and when you were just weeks from graduating that same school.
Despite my much-vaunted rationality and cynicism, in my heart of hearts I have a deep, indelible strain of superstitiousness that I inherited from your Savta. So when, God willing, Ben climbs aboard that plane to California, when he later stands upon that stage and takes that diploma, a profound terror will depart my heart, an enormous burden roll off my soul. The barrier I have been dreading will have been crossed forever; a child of mine will have gone where you were stopped short of going.
And perhaps, I'll be able to cross that barrier with Ben. To again begin looking toward the future with more anticipation than anxiety, more hope than fear. To actually let myself start believing again that God has success and fulfillment, joy and simcha, in store for us, somewhere, somehow.
I know there is a concept of those who have moved on to the next world acting as malitzay yosher, celestial supporters for those they left behind. I pray that God has given you the merit of looking down on us and advocating for your family that misses you so. If so, please put in a good word for us, and ask that Divine mercy be granted to enable your siblings to continue to move on, to advance and develop through all the stages of life that we hope our children will attain.
And when they do, God willing - when each new obstacle is overcome and milestone is achieved - I will then know and feel that their successes are, in a part, yours as well.
May you continue to rest in peace. Love forever,