Saying Goodbye

Posted on November 17th, 2013

I can’t sleep. I just ate half a loaf of chocolate bobka with enough sugar to keep me going for a week. So I think now would be the right time for me to write what happened from my perspective. I warn you first, this post may get rough.  The lyrics that I have put it are all from the group 3 Doors Down.

There’s so much that I would say,
If I could see you one last time.
But now I can’t cause you’re not here,
But you’re always on my mind.
And I look up and you’re not there,

When I lie awake at night.
All these things I ask myself
And I don’t know why.

It was around 5 in the morning. I never really sleep. So when CD came in I gave him a sleepy hi and he asked me to come upstairs. I knew there was only one reason at that point he would feel the need to wake me and walk up to the bedroom (I’ve been sleeping in my son’s room.) But it was still a painful short walk.

I believed I would have an enormous feeling of relief when she finally passed. She suffered so much this last two weeks. We all did.

Yet that feeling of relief lasted less than five minutes. I said good-bye to her still body. I asked CD to call whomever he had to call. My hope that she would be taken out of the house before my kids woke up.

But these things take time. The police had to come to certify that the death was from natural causes, the ambulance had to come with the final death certificates.  Around six Josh told me that people would start seeing the ambulance and police cars and would start texting. Word would leak out and eventually reach my children. So I had better tell them myself.

Yedidya was already up and getting dressed. I quietly asked him to go to his sisters room. I closed the door and told them that it was finally over. Then I did the same with Max.

When it’s the first time
You’ll never see someone again
When it’s the last time
You weren’t ready for it to end

When a light leaves you
Standing alone there in the dark

They’re never easy
But sometimes, goodbyes are so hard,
They’re so hard

The Sussmans and my brother were downstairs. When the police were done, the Chevra Kadisha was called in to take her away. They suggested I stay away from the room but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t leave her.

In a daze I came downstairs. The Rav and a few more friends were there. They asked me a few questions until I just went numb. I told them to do whatever they need to do as just get the funeral going as soon as possible.

I had two hours. Two hours to do anything. But there was nothing I wanted to do. I put on some sad songs and walked around what had once been our bedroom. I opened her closet and took out one of her dresses and hugged it. Then danced around the room gently holding it close to me. I put it to my face and tried to breath in her essence and not the smell of death that permeated the room.

But the seconds ticked by too slowly. So I changed into my running shorts and got on my treadmill. I kept increasing the speed until the pain of keeping up pushed out the pain of my loss from my mind. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to read any more psalms. I just wanted to hurt. And I pounded that treadmill until the floor and walls were covered in sweat. Before I knew it, it was time.

I jumped into the shower and then took out my shabbat clothes. Yes, I knew that I would have to tear my shirt. But I wanted to take my most favorite shirt and rip it to shreds because compared to Stella, it meant nothing to me any more.

We all gathered downstairs until it was time to walk the two minutes to where the funeral would be held, outside the synagogue of Neve Daniel. Before hand the Rav helped us tear kria. And then it was really time.

We walked outside the the shul and the first thing I saw was Stella’s body, draped in a beautiful cover. I was guided with my family to our seats. The Rav spoke in Hebrew. I could follow most of it. But nothing surprised me. I started thinking about what I should say. Romi and Ruth then spoke. As they spoke I felt more pain than I could imagine. It was pulling me down from my chair. My daughter put her hand on my back. I knew that Josh and Rafi were close by. But mostly I was looking at the ground.

When it’s the first time
You’ll never see someone again
When it’s the last time
You weren’t ready for it to end

When a light leaves you
Standing alone there in the dark

They’re never easy
But sometimes, goodbyes are so hard,
They’re so hard

Then it was my turn. I wasn’t exactly sure what to say. But I knew that Stella would be upset if I didn’t try to express my appreciation for all the work that all the people in our community had done for us. I don’t know if I really did it justice, but it may have been an impossible task to start with.

Then it came time to address my children. This was what I considered the most important part of the whole thing. To let them know that their lives have NOT ended, that I WILL be there for them. And that TOGETHER, we would survive. SOMEHOW.

And then. Then, it was time to say good-bye to Stella. I looked up and it was the first time I realized just how many people were there. I was stunned for a moment. Then continued talking to Stella. I could see the shape of her head through the shroud and wanted to desperately reach over and give her one last hug. But, I couldn’t.

I look ahead but can’t move on,
I look back but I can’t stay
And I keep trying to be strong,
But this pain it won’t go away

We then escorted her body out of Neve Daniel to the ambulance that would taker her to the cemetery.

The burial was one blur. As we slowly walked behind the stretcher, the pain and horror just magnified. Josh was on one side and Rafi on the other, keeping my knees from buckling as we approached the final place.

All rational thought left my brain as they lowered her into the earth. Then something interesting happened. I felt that Josh, my rock, was starting to shake. And I heard myself whisper to him, “it’s ok, it’s ok.” It may have been my mouth, but that was Stella clearly speaking from my heart.

We walked away from the grave, packed with friends, surrounded by love. Hugs, kisses, crying eyes, supportive words.


I hope this will heal in time,
’cause I can’t go on like this,
And right now I would give my life
For one last kiss.

And now. Now. Now.

Now at two in the morning, I just hope that the pain will fade and that we can rebuild.

And when the night falls in around me
I dont think Ill make it through
I need  your light to guide the way
‘Cause all I think about is you

Sorry for the depressing post. But it’s your choice to read it.

I’m here without you baby, but you’re still on my lonely mind
I think about you baby, and I dream about you all the time
I’m here without you baby, but you’re still with me in my dreams
And tonight, there’s only you and me

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  1. Bill Landau says:

    You’re right, it was hard to read, but not as hard as it was to write. Didn’t have email or social media 29 years ago, so I don’t know. It occurs to me as I write this that you met Stella about the time that Sheila died. I wonder if, somehow, some of Sheila’s spirit was transferred to Stella. In so many ways, Stella was like Sheila.

    It is dark. It will probably be darker. It certainly will feel like it. Eventually, at least in my experience, the darkness will lift. Just a little bit. You will go on, because you have to go on, for your children, and because Stella wouldn’t forgive you if you didn’t.

    I wish I could help and comfort you, my friend. All I can say is that, along with dozens, or likely hundreds, of others, I will be there when you do want to talk (or just scream or cry).


  2. Laurie Cohen says:

    Our hearts are breaking for you. Your words have touched us so we can only have a glimpse, and still can’t imagine your pain. I remember that surreal feeling you describe, from when my father passed away, almost 4 years ago. The pain may get a bit less over time, but you will always have a hole. You are fortunate you have so many friends in Neve Daniel (and around the world ) to pray for you and try to help. My prayer for you is that Hashem give you the strength to get past this pain (not get over it, you never will), and to comfort and love, and help, for you and your children.

  3. Sharon Cole says:

    In a strange way…thank you for this….I, I just felt like I wanted to really be there and couldn’t and your account of events that happened is helping me grieve too. Thank you for allowing me, us into your world. I think about you every day. I know healing will come, but you are right….right now….F THIS!

  4. Agi says:

    After I stoped crying my first thought is what a lucky man you are.
    To have had such love is a amazing,to be able to express your self and get it out to theextent thatpeople actualy feel your pain is a gift that not many people have.
    Stella left you with her most precious posestion your beautiful children.
    May you give each other strenght in the coming days
    May G-d bless you all!

  5. Rachel Stern says:

    I never had the zchut to have met Stella. I had of course, heard of her, and read of her story and have followed your story as well. I have never responded because there was nothing I could say. But this time I must respond. You wrote some things that so mirrored my own experience. My husband, Barry Stern, a”h died in January 2009. But unlike your experience, his death was sudden and unexpected. He slipped, fell, struck his head, suffered a major subdural hematoma and was brain stem dead upon arrival to the ER. But when he died, I too, was numb. I too, wanted to feel pain – at the funeral, it was bitter cold out, and I was not dressed right for the cold, I was cold, freezing in fact. But I WANTED to feel that pain. And I too, chose to wear a favorite garment of mine, that I knew I would have to tear, to rend in grief. I did not speak, though. I couldn’t. I just had no words — for me his death came far too quickly and suddenly for me to even feel what I wanted to say. At the kevurah, I received a hug from every single person that was there. It has been almost five years. I still miss Barry – but the pain does get easier to bear. It never goes away. But it does get easier. I pray for you and your children that that pain will ease for you. And for an aliyah for the Neshama that was Stella …

  6. Hana Julian says:

    The first year is the hardest — yes, it is dark now but you have some of the numbness to protect you still in this, the first month, the shloshim. You are so fortunate to live in the loving tight community of Neve Daniel, where your circle of loving, supportive friends will hold you up and embrace your children as you move through the year and its ups and downs of agony. The darkness will ebb and flow; I know, having lost my own beloved husband just a year ago last Pesach. But I can also tell you from that experience that the pain will level out eventually and become something you find you can survive and live with. Hang in there, be gentle with yourself, and don’t expect anything more from yourself than you can manage in any single day. You and your kids come first. Don’t hold back the tears, and don’t block your grief, but beware of scaring your kids with it. Help your children express theirs too. You’ll all heal faster.
    אני מצרפת בצארכם

  7. A. says:

    Yes, Yarden
    No, it is near impossible to go through
    I know that you know that you will be there for the children and that Stella knew that
    It does not seem self explicable how to do that at this time
    Just keep existing
    People who have suffered a loss will now say ‘you don’t get over it, you get used to it’ or ‘now you have a hole in your life, which will someday be a beautiful garden of memories but still be a hole,’ and whatnot else, and it will sound more or less insulting and patronizing or at least impossible to imagine
    Don’t worry about that at this time
    Let you and the children all just exist together for now
    Much support despite its inadequacy of being from any other human but her

  8. Bentzion Geisinsky says:

    Dear Yarden,
    ה’ נתן וה’ לקח, יהי שם ה’ מבורך מעתה ועד עולם
    My heart goes out to you as you ache in loss of you most precious friend, your soulmate. You were very blessed, -blessed with an Aishes Chayil that was gracious and noble in the eyes of Heaven and Earth. If you could reverse time retaining all you now know about Stella a”h including that her year’s would be fewer, would you still have chosen her as your bride? If your answer is a profound Yes, then you have been given an eternal blessing (not all marriages share what you had). Your children too will always have the blessing of Stellar a”h as their mother, as their muster. As for the pain, it too offers comfort, it is the instrument which you are now using to feel your beloved deeply (the other option would be to feel apathy).

    May Hashem give you the full strength, spirit, wisdom and circumstances to carry-on. You and her are partners forever and this will become more apparent to you as time goes on. Please know that this community will always remember her with great respect and admiration. For you יבלט”א we feel as one feels for a brother.

    המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
    והקיצו ורננו שוכני עפר ….. בבמש”צ

  9. Miryam Heiliczer says:

    Yarden. No words, only empathy for your pain. My dear husband died last Shabbat, on his 66th birthday. I just got up from Shiva. Your words , but my thoughts… I will keep your poem/song close to me. May HaShem comfort you in this excrutiating time.

  10. sandra says:

    I did not know her well, only through Ruthie’s eyes. And, through those eyes and your blog I feel like I knew her well. I’ll never forget your family walking up and down on the football field and I will never forget her beautiful smile when Marietta and I dropped off the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and sushi; it was pure like an angel. May you and your family carry on her legacy and may you and your family, with the help of Hashem, heal. B’vracha, Sandra

  11. Kiwi Noa says:

    The final words I gave at my dad’s funeral were: “Your love was our inheritance, I pray we spend it well”. I pray that for you and your family too. Stella will always live on through you and your children, because her investment in you all was total. The Maori have a saying, Kia Kaha, “stay strong”. I say it for you, for when you need strength, but don’t forget, you don’t have to be strong all the time. At those times, let G-d be strong for you.

  12. Sheila Rinde says:

    Yarden your thoughts are so private and yet some thoughts are so universal
    Beyond words you have expressed what so many feel and have felt.
    Stella Of BLessed MEmory was a bigger than life NEshamah who is part of you and your children for all eternity. May you heal as much as possible and grow as much as possible as you continue your journey with Stella of BLessed Memory with you from eternity.In the future you may have visitation dreams or you may have already have some where one’s Beloved is seated in a familiar setting fully clothed and speaking to you . It is real It is part of the new reality where eternity is bound up with the lgoshemas dimension the beloved Stella of Blessed MEmory has left for Eternity. May you be Comforted Among the Mourners of Zion and JErusalem , no more Schar and long life with newly found Shalom and Chomah and all gifts to you from G-d. Love the Ribde Family

  13. ronnie pleet says:

    You said it all tenderly,lovingly,sorrowfully.
    Take care of yourself and children.

  14. Jill Shames says:

    So painful. So real. Thank you. May Our Father in. Heaven hold you, all of you, gently in His embrace.