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March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 5775
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From The Greatest Heights (Chapter I)

Perhaps because my vision of their birth and death one hour later is forever seared in my memory, I never saw them as aging, until this last year. It was a sudden realization that the next two years were going to be very different. I suddenly realized that my wife and I would have been in the process of planning our daughter’s Bas Mitzvah had she survived. To compound the pain, the day after her Bas Mitzvah celebration we would have started planning for our son’s Bar Mitzvah. Two years of planning and celebration that will never be, two years of joy and happiness ripped from our lives forever.

It is important for me to tell the entire story, from the demeaning infertility process, to the exuberance at hearing the greatest news possible, to the prayers for a miracle and the sudden devastating realization that all is lost and that we are powerless to stop it.

I understand that this series will touch on some very emotional issues, and I understand that the process of telling this story will force me to revisit the darkest moments any person can ever experience in excruciating detail, but I feel compelled to give my son and daughter a voice. My son and daughter never had the chance to create their own legacy, and I need to try to provide one for them.

Several people contacted me following my series about my college experience to tell me that I was really telling their story. They felt that I was giving voice to things they had long felt, but were unable to express.

I am under no illusions that I will be able to provide any comfort to those parents in Newtown anytime in the near future, but if I can provide some sense of comfort or meaning, no matter how ephemeral, to grieving parents who know that the pain will never go away, I can at least feel that I have done something positive in the memory of my beloved children, Asher and Devorah.

About the Author: Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is a freelance writer, public speaker and social media consultant. He is currently working on a book about his collegiate experience. He welcomes comments and feedback at chaimshapiro@aol.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/

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8 Responses to “From The Greatest Heights (Chapter I)”

  1. Ilana Schwarcz says:

    I'm so very sorry for your loss. May Hashem comfort you.

  2. Chaim, thank you so much for summoning the strength and courage to share this. I cannot imagine the extent of the loss you feel, and have felt, but I am overwhelmed by the power of your words; and I am proud of you for helping others to begin to deal with their own pain (and begin to grasp the hope that can be generated via 'acceptance.') Stay well, old friend, stay strong, and think good thoughts…

  3. Sherree Belsky says:

    Isn't it amazing that Hashem who created the universe, who gave us the Torah, who guides us in everything we do, who gave us common sense, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, compassion, chessed and sympathy aslo created human beings who have the ability to say the stupidest and most uncouth comments at the most unfortunate times? Why is that they don't understand that Hashem gave us both lips and teeth to guard our tongues from letting these stupid comments slip out?

    No one can judge another person's pain, the only thing one can do is validate it and show compassion for the loss and pain another experiences. Chaim, I am so sorry for your loss, and never heard your story before. Of course you and your wife suffered a devastating blow. You suffered the deaths of two children, two babies that you were excited to welcome into your family, excited to see grow up with siblings and be a part and parcel of your family and life. You expected to see their first smiles, their first steps, their first words as all parents expect of their children. The hopes and dreams that you had as you went through the pregnancy or the hopes and dreams that any parent has throughout a pregnancy is normal, along with the fears. How can anyone tell you that what you felt or experienced didn't happen or you were not a parent to the babies your wife carried? As soon as a pregnancy was confirmed the two of your were expectant "parents".

    As you held your babies in your arms you infused them with the love only a parent can give. Only Hashem can decide who lives and who dies, but a parent has the power of love and your babies without a doubt felt the love of both their parents. WE are only human, we don't know what Hashem's plans are, or what these tiny neshoma's tafkidim were and why they were only meant to be born but not stay on this earth. Maybe their pure innocent neshomas could not bare the evil of what this world and especially our own Frum world has become. Maybe they were sent here to be kaporos for all of us. We can't know, but we do know that there was a reason why you and they were chosen for this tafkid.

    We all know that Hashem does NOT give any of us more than we can handle. You carry your pekel and I carry mine. Neither of us would choose to switch. Of course I would not want to be in your shoes and if you were to learn my story, you would choose to keep your own pekel. My mother A"H used to say, if everyone would gather in a big room and put their pekelech on a big table they would all choose to leave with their own pekel.

    I have no doubt that your little angels are looking out for you and your family. Maybe that is why they were sent to you. Maybe that was their tafkid, to be yours and to be connected to you. Only Hashem knows. But you were definitely blessed by them in some way because every child brings with them a special brocha and mazal. Even though they did not survive they brought something to your life. I understand that the loss is painful but if you can also accept that there was a purpose for them being born and even surviving for just one hour. For just one hour you felt there sweet breath as shallow as it was, for just one hour you felt their heart beating. For just one hour you smelled their baby smell. For just one hour you felt their soft baby skin, and that one hour will last you your entire lifetime, because you felt their life in your hands. Hashem had that much rachmonus on you, he allowed you to feel them, smell them, experience them if only for that one hour. Your wife did not miscarry, they were not stillborn! There are those who were NOT that lucky. Yes I am saying that because it is true. There are those who are NOT that lucky, so if only for one hour, you held life in your hands, and that life even for one hour, is always a promise for the future.

    So always remember your little angels, but do not remember them with too much anger or sadness. YOU did nothing wrong. YOU were NOT in control. YOU are NOT G-D. Hashem is in charge and WE as Yiddin MUST look upon these things as gifts. We MUST look at things in the positive. Hashem did give you the gift of life through other children B"H. He did keep his promise towards you. But he also gave you these little angels, just for a little while, just to hold for a precious few minutes because he knew that you could appreciate and value life as precious as it is and YOU do not take it for granted.

  4. Thank you for this gift to us, this sharing of your loss of Asher and Devorah. We who have lost children cast about in our grief, never knowing when to cry, when to hold the tears back, when to talk about it, and when stay silent to give our friends and family a break from our grief.

    I can hardly stand to think about Newtown. It is like trying to magnify the loss of my daughter times 20. Unbearable. Unthinkable.

    It took courage for you to go to that place of pain and let it out. Your gift is appreciated.

  5. Inmemoryof Yossi says:

    I am very, very sorry for your loss.

    If you need, or want, I have a Jewish support group online. It is a listserve. You can send me a PM, or you can look for JP Net on Yahoo groups.

    I hope that Moshiach will come quickly and our kids will come back. I hope you will hold Devorah and Asher in your arms very soon.

  6. Inmemoryof Yossi says:

    I am very, very sorry for your loss.

    If you need, or want, I have a Jewish support group online. It is a listserve. You can send me a PM, or you can look for JP Net on Yahoo groups.

    I hope that Moshiach will come quickly and our kids will come back. I hope you will hold Devorah and Asher in your arms very soon.

  7. I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Glen Holman says:

    Beautifully written.

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