“I think I’m going to stay alone for Yom Tov,” I said, shivering with the frightening finality of the words.
The rav sprung into action. He pulled open the fridge and pulled out a small tin of sliced gefilte fish. He pulled open the freezer and pulled out a pan of roasted chicken.
“Yitzy!” he called, “go down to the basement and bring me a box, please.”
Cooked potatoes were sliced and added to the pan.
“Sruly!” he called. “Go downstairs and get two bottles of wine from the Pesach room.”
The Rebbetzin’s tins were covered and stacked and arranged into the box. Two bottles of wine were deposited neatly on their side.
My heart shivered with the finality of it as the possibilities slipped from my fingers. It was set; I would be alone. I had options, but I felt too insecure and threatened in a home anywhere but this one. And they could not have me for Yom Tov. It was my decision. But I was afraid.
Sruly came up the stairs once more, carrying a silver plate and kos in his hands. A big smile crossed his face. “I got this for you,” he said.
I took the dishes from his hand. They were plastic, but looked like real silver. The black-silver shine sparked in my hands, ignited a twin spark in my heart. My face dropped the anxiety and twisted naturally into a smile. “Whose idea was that?” I asked. My heart paused its fluttering.
“Mine,” he responded easily.
This time I grinned. “Thank you so much, Sruly!” I carried my becher into the kitchen and placed it carefully in the box.
The Rebbetzin turned from the stove and returned my smile. “It really was his idea,” she confirmed.
The spark in my heart grew in strength, slowly warming my cold veins.
Hasty best wishes were sent my way, the taxi was called… it was time to leave. I lifted my box and walked out the door.
It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done.
The box was much heavier than its light weight. Only the silver, shimmering in my mind, helped me open that heavy door, walk down the path, and slide into the car that would take me away.
I placed my precious burden on the clean floor of my kitchen. The silver plate was there, shining happily, but there was no kos. I looked frantically for it, lifted out the tins, checked through my bags… It wasn’t there. Later I would find out that the baby had toddled over and lifted it from the box in the minutes before I had left.
At the moment, I felt devastated, cut off from the one tie that sparked a connection of caring… an extra special unnecessary something that came with a big smile crossing a small face.
The Yom Tov food and the small silver plate would be my consolation.
I did my best to set up nicely for Yom Tov, to make this festive night special.
It was hard. All I felt was sadness, and anxiety, and the fear of the unknown. When one is so small inside, it is hard to be alone.
The silver plate lay on the white china dish on the white lace tablecloth. I was exhausted, completely gone… Thoughts came and went, tormenting thoughts, of fear and threat and helplessness and sadness and aloneness and – and what do I do, and why am I left alone… why am I left alone??? Tears of anger and pain rolled down my cheeks.
Just make Kiddush, Tirtza… just make Kiddush.
I poured the wine and raised the clear plastic cup. There was the silver plate, shining to me in a beacon of shimmering connection. In the mirrored surface shone the murky depths- of people, far away perhaps, who could not be with me, but who sent me strength, and caring-
There was depth in the shimmering mirror, even if my foggy mind could not fully grasp its meaning.
Yom Tov was hard, but I pushed, pushed beyond my felt abilities – because I knew I was not alone.
This Shabbos I was alone again.
Not just by myself. Alone. This time I felt totally… bereft, abandoned…. I had not been able to hear from my support and I was… all alone.
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