I Do Remember
4 weeks ago I met with the Rabbi who was to be performing my wedding a week later. It was a trying meeting because I kept trying to find a way for him to acknowledge my past with my late wife Rachel, but wanted it done delicately for obvious reasons. My soon to be wife at the time, Peri, was best friends with Rachel for many years before Rachel and I even met. To mention Rachel was a no brainer, we both wanted it and insisted on it.
Once we established how Rachel was going to be acknowledged, the question of how Gabi can be acknowledged was forged with the Rabbi. The question caught him off guard. He did not feel that at a time of celebration the loss of a child who passed ineutero was appropriate to acknowledge out loud to a crowd of individuals who may not be aware of the whole story. To explain to him how a true knot in the umbilical cord took her life, or how difficult the pregnancy for Rachel was, or that this pregnancy was one that medical professionals said could never happen would have fallen on deaf ears. I could not explain how every morning Rachel would get up with a smile on her face no matter how hard it was, I could not explain how the loss of Gabi destroyed Rachel and sent her into a spiraling depression she could not get out of.
A few days later I wrote a blog post. It was an apology letter to Gabi asking for forgiveness that she would not be acknowledged at the wedding. I wrote about the things I have done and will continue to do, so that she will never be forgotten. She was a real person in my life, even if others are unable to see the truth. I never published the post and only shared the draft with a small number of people who I knew would understand.
Three nights before the wedding, Peri sent me a jewellery box. Inside the box was a pin of a baby carriage. I wore the pin clipped to the inside of my tuxedo, so that I had a physical way of reminding me that Gabi was with me on that very important day. It was the most heartfelt thoughtful gift anyone could have given me on that day.
Leading up to the wedding, I met many people who knew nothing more about me than the fact that I was the guy getting married. The day before the wedding one stranger asked me how often my daughter Channah sees her birth mother. I realized all the time I had been engaged, nobody else had ever asked about my background.
At the wedding, the Rabbi spoke about tragedy in my life in very general terms. Those who knew about Gabi could understand his words to include Gabi, even if it wasn’t intentional.
I have had heart break in my life. Gabi was so deeply loved even though she didn’t make it into this world. The scar on my heart from the pain of her loss will always be there.
Rachel and I were married for almost 15 years and were friends for more than half our lives. The whole in my heart that her loss left may not be as big as it once was, but it will never fully heal. Tragedy may have changed who I am as a person as I have had to grow and become a better person because of it. However these tragedies do not define who I am.
When I meet someone new, sometimes I will tell them about Rache, other times I don’t feel the need to share that part of my life with them. Gabi fits in the same way. The only difference is the type of impact she made on my life is on such a deep personal level that sometimes out of desire and sometimes out of convenience it is easier to keep those feelings to myself. Rachel and Gabi’s memory will always be with me. There will be occasions to remember them more outwardly than others. Rebuilding my life requires remembering the past. It also means not always living in the past.