Dearest Nissim, my adored and cherished step-father,
Today, you bury your little girl. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Because I believe that funerals and shiva, the mourning period, is for the living and not the dead, I am writing a letter to you, rather than a goodbye to Ya’ara.
One of the first things I learned about you was that you had a daughter named Ya’ara, which means honeycomb. What a beautiful name. What a beautiful love. You named your daughter honeycomb, a name, which proved your undying love for her from the moment she was born.
The more I learned about her and got to know her, I realized just how appropriate that beautiful name was for her. Her beautiful smile illuminated the room and her embrace was as warm as her personality. She truly was a honeycomb.
She was always bubbling with emotions, whether with a phone call at two in the morning or dancing around the Shabbat table. She was overflowing with sticky sweetness, which was intoxicating. She overflowed with sweet, magical honey…honey the color of your hair…honey, which came from you.
Like any honeycomb, she thrived on the existence of the bees in her life to provide her with love and honey. The way in which you love, Nissim, is pure, sweet, unconditional, unadulterated and miraculous. So, too, the way you loved Ya’ara was a beautiful thing to witness. Your hugs and kisses filled her with love and honey. You were the bee that made her honeycomb complete.
One of my favorite pictures of Ya’ara is a picture my mother took of her on the beaches of Tel-Aviv, Israel, the land of milk and honey. The picture depicts only her hands, which are delicately holding a seashell. Rays of sunlight shone upon her left wrist, which was adorned by several bracelets. From the camera’s angle, one of the bracelets read “LIVE.”
Only weeks before her death, crouched on the floor, suffering from the pangs of returned Leukemia, you were struggling to LIVE. Then, the day before Ya’ara passed away, distraught by the return of severe pain to my face, I cried to my mother that the chronic and excruciating pain took away my desire to LIVE. However, Ya’ara’s death the following day reminded me of the proverb, “Let the words of your mouth be life and not death, and you will not grow weary. “ Because of Ya’ara, I now know that I want to LIVE, just as the words on her bracelet read.
The other side of that bracelet read “LOVE,” a word with only one letter, which differentiates it from the word “live.” While I didn’t know Ya’ara very well, today, I suffer with you because of how much I LOVE you. Today, when you rend your clothing, my heart will also be torn. As you, again, crouch on the floor for the next seven days, due to pains far worse than anything Leukemia could bring, my spirits will also be low. Today, as her body enters the earth, I will cry with you. But, I pray that you do not drown in the tears of your sorrow, because my mother, Ben and I need your miraculous LOVE…for we need your honey to LIVE.
11.30.1989 – 11.3.2011