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Flaurie Imberman was my Spanish teacher in high school. Last year, her husband suddenly died at the end of December. I asked her if I could post this moving piece that she composed for Yizkor (Remembrance) Service on Yom Kippur this year. I am grateful for her words and her sharing her mourning process. Gracias y Todah, Doña Flaurie -Nora Menkin

On December 21, two days after my beloved husband Peter died suddenly and unexpectedly, my cousin Nechama told me, "Remember: after today, the days will grow longer and there will be more light."

Of course, had Peter been there, he would have immediately told us, with absolute precision, how much longer each day would be. For me, though, it would be a very long time until the light showed up in ways that were palpable.

The hours and days passed, and I was increasingly pulled into darkness.  As my numbness gradually wore off, my utter shock was replaced by fears:  How would I pay my bills? Would I be able to remain in my home?  What if I were too tired to wash the dishes? What if I fell and no one knew? What if, what if, what if....anxiety birthed more anxiety...and with it....continued darkness....

I felt like I had slipped into that proverbial black hole. 

Often sleepless at 3am, I sat facing the window, waiting and waiting.  Writing in the Jewish journals that loved ones had brought kept me busy for weeks. Every day, at 4pm, I waited for Peter to call and tell me when he would be home for dinner. Everyone else knew that call would not come, but I held out, as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks, into months.

During the minyan at the end of the sheloshim period, Rabbi Graff talked about the appearance that evening of the new moon. That sliver of light, she suggested, could represent a hopefulness that she believed I would one day feel again. I might feel Peter's spirit in this moonlight, she said, accompanying me as I struggled to find my way without him.

But the darkness continued, as the hours turned into days and the days into weeks, and more worries emerged.

Would I have a chance to love again? Who would hold my hand when I stirred in the middle of the night? Whom would I cook for? Whose joys would be married to mine? I reflected upon the words of my bereavement counselor, who said that when your partner dies, you not only lose the person you loved, but also the dreams you shared for the future as well.

And so the hours turned into days, and the days into weeks, and, yet, slowly, at a certain point I grew aware that the days were, in fact, longer.  I was eager to greet the light, and began to enjoy it throughout the day. For the first time in my life, I started reciting a daily blessing:

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam, yotzeyr or.

Thank you G-d, creator of the universe, for making the light.

And I realized that light been with me all along:  daily texts, phone calls and visits from family and friends; gratifying lessons with students; sweet letters and generous gift cards from many of you; warm, welcoming hugs at shul; frequent pep talks and guidance from Rabbi Booth; invitations for Shabbos dinner.

Rabbi Lewis often shares a midrash about the fear that Adam and Eve felt upon seeing the sun set on the day of their creation. Thinking it was punishment for something they had done, they wept, only to rejoice and thank the Heavens when the light returned.  Studying together another midrash, Rabbi Lewis also taught me about the fears Adam and Eve experienced as the autumnal days grew shorter and shifted towards darkness. During their first year they were still learning about the inevitable and predictable cycle of the seasons.

Now, as the days grow shorter, I feel many of my old anxieties returning. Soon the sun will set before I sit down for dinner and by now I know for sure that Peter will not return home to join me, at least not in the way I wish he could. 

But now I do know, like our ancestors knew, that the light will always return.  I also know that there is always light around me...I just need to open my eyes and my heart to let it in....

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam, yotzeyr or.

Thank you G-d, creator of the universe, for making the light.

May we all be sealed in the Book of Life.  G'mar Chatima Tova

Flaurie S. Imberman   September 23, 2015     Yom Kippur 5776