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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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Aaron's Birthday - 2008

"And despite all the truth that's been thrown in my face
I just can't get you out of my mind
And I've got to begin again
Though I don't know how to start
Yes, I've got to begin again
And it's hard"
- Billy Joel

January 22. Aaron's birthday here again. At the very minute this post is dated, 8:23 pm, 21 years ago tonight, my oldest son came into the world. It's now been almost three years since he left that world again, three years since the last birthday he was allowed to celebrate. That year, that night, Aaron turned eighteen. We marvelled at how adult, how mature he had become. How many doors had now opened for him with that "coming of age"! Soon afterwards he received his first credit card, his selective service application, uncounted job offers and college applications. My little boy, all grown up, ready to start his new life. God help me, I really believed it.

Two years ago today, and again last year, I was able to pull myself together enough to share some tender and treasured memories of the Aaron that was. Please, dear ones, click those links, read those bittersweet posts again, relive those wonderful and painful recollections.

But tonight, my fingers tremble on the keyboard as I try to write. I feel such a desperate need to say something, anything, that would be profound, meaningful, or even just fitting. Some external words that express the inexpressible within. Yet my mind feels blank, and my emotions feel - numb.

Lately it's been harder and harder to see Aaron's face in my mind, to recall his voice, his manner of speech and inflection. The sharpness of my memories of Aaron is dulling with time. And yet, more and not less often lately, I experience the sudden feeling, the near-certainty that this horror never really happened, that I'll wake up tomorrow morning and Aaron will be back in his old room again. I'll hear him showering at 6:05 am like clockwork, getting ready for school. The reliable kid will be back, the boy who didn't miss a single day of high school for illness in four years. Nearly four years I mean, Heaven help me.

Nobody who hasn't experienced this, God forbid to infinity, can possibly understand what we go through every single day. Not our dearest friends, not our most intimate family, God bless them all. And please, please may this continue, may they never, ever "get it". For that, we go to the Chai Lifeline events, as we are doing again this weekend, to get a chance to be together with the other freaks - pardon me, bereaved parents.

Lately this blog has become a place for game playing. Mondays are musical and Thursdays trivial, and we all have a little fun together. In between, when I have time and presence of mind to work a little harder at it, I post divrei Torah, bon mots, my pointless points of view on sports, world events, politics, or life in general. I have no plans to stop these necessary and cherished diversions. Just a day or two from now, they will likely return.

But just for tonight, I'm dispensing with the games, letting the mask of normalcy, the one that all of us who have lost a child wear, slip just a little bit. Hope you can all deal. If not, the next blog is just a click away

God dammit, I miss that kid.


At 1/23/08, 1:36 AM, Blogger Baila said...


Almost a year ago our daughter almost died from a massive infection. She was in an induced coma for 11 days. G-d brought her back from the brink and with my whole being I thank Him everyday. But I sometimes imagine the whole thing going the other way. I have so much fear for her and my other children. I try to combat it with Emunah, but sometimes its very, very hard. So although I will never completely understand what you go through every day, just a little of it I do. And how I wish that I didn't, and that you didn't have to write the words that you do.

If you can deal, (and you have no choice), believe me we all can deal. We love your blog. And we know the current that runs underneath the divrei Torah, the games, the trivia, and the comments on everything else. We appreciate all the different aspects of it,and the lesson that you teach us; that there is an appropriate time for everything in this world, for joy, humor, and even for pain.

Looking forward to your next diversion...

At 1/23/08, 1:52 AM, Blogger cruisin-mom said...

Elie, you have touched my heart. You remind us all of what is important and really matters. Thank you for sharing so honestly what this feels like for you. I can offer no more to you than to let you know that I have listened.

At 1/23/08, 2:51 AM, Blogger Jack said...

Keep on writing and I'll keep on reading.

At 1/23/08, 2:42 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Baila, thank you so much for sharing your story. Your empathy and heartfelt words mean a lot. May God grant you and your children long life and good health.

Cruisin Mom and Jack, thanks to you both for being there, not just for the happy times/posts but the sad ones as well.

I just received a copy of this comforting letter via the manager of the Aaron Rosenfeld fund at Chai Lifeline:

"Just wanted you to know that I knew Aaron Rosenfeld when I slept in the same bunk with him at Camp Dora Golding. I had the zechus, as a musician, to entertain at his Bar Mitzvah.

Donation: $XX.xx"

It is so nice to know that people whom Aaron touched in his short time continue to connect back to us.

At 1/23/08, 3:29 PM, Blogger trn said...

Thank you for writing this, Elie. I'm really glad you did. I'm really sorry you have such a topic about which to write. I wish for you much koach and nechama.

At 1/24/08, 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elie - I'm still reading and keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

At 1/24/08, 11:10 AM, Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I have no words. May you be comforted by the good memories you have of Aaron.

At 1/25/08, 12:53 AM, Blogger torontopearl said...

If starting this blog has helped you on the path to "mending" -- I won't say "healing" because your family can never be healed, I'm sure -- then thank G-d for that. In your need to reach out to others and share your dear son with us, you've made some new friends along the way, Elie. That is a gift to you...and to us.
May your Aaron's neshama have an aliya.

At 1/27/08, 1:19 AM, Anonymous David Linn said...

I've often been moved, actually shaken, by your writing. I think I might have been more shaken by your inability to write here.

At 2/8/08, 1:58 AM, Blogger Lady-Light said...

I have been remiss in that I have not visited your blog for a long while (nor others as well), but I have been thinking of you every now and then, how you were doing, and finally tonight I scrolled through your latest posts and became trapped in this one, shaken.
I can do naught but repeat what several commenters wrote above: 'there are no words; in your need to reach out...you have made new friends along the way...which is a gift...and may your beloved Aaron's neshama have an aliyah...'


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