On Thursday will mark 3 years since my Gabi was taken from this world. A rare cord accident at 32 weeks took her life, while we had reached the point where we thought the pregnancy was safe. For most of the world, she was forgotten a long time ago.
My memories of the hospital staff are blurry. Although I remember the kindness of the nurses, there is no way they would remember Gabi. The anesthesiologist who was thrown out of the operating room before the C-Section for being a jerk might remember that day (if there was disciplinary action) but he was gone before anyone met Gabi. I didn’t even see him. Gabi’s mother isn’t even alive anymore to remember her.
Gabi’s memories fit into a single envelope. Some pictures (including the CD) that the hospital was kind enough to take, a hospital bracelet she never wore and information card that should have gone on her incubator. Most of our family live overseas so they didn’t get to see the ups and downs of a very difficult pregnancy. A very select number of family members were offered the opportunity to see the pictures of Gabi. Only one was able to handle looking and only one recognized that this happened. It was not a reality for them. All I had left to turn that into reality is a few pictures. There was only one who was able to make that transition and actively feel that Gabi was a real person.
We needed a concrete way to remember Gabi. Something that would put meaning to her short and mostly unrecognized life. We raised money to build a small library in our little synagogue and filled it with books. We even had a friend at a book store talk to the owner in order for us to receive a significant discount on the books. As we were approaching our budget, he threw in some books to make the collection more complete.
I remember the Saturday walking to synagogue at 8:00 a.m. with a friend. His son was up early, excited to walk with his father because he hadn’t finished the book he had started reading the night before. It still brings a smile to my face when I watch a kid reading one of those books knowing that it has created a more positive experience for them and contributed to the decorum of the synagogue. People may not know who Gabi is but they know she existed and that fact has enhanced their lives.
Last month I received a message from an old high school friend. They were sending a couple of books to be added to the library. I was so touched that 3 years later not only is an old friend still remembering Gabi but actively showing it. I know of others who take an active roll in remembering Gabi. Those actions tend to be on a more private basis.
There is one other person that actively remembers Gabi on a weekly basis. On Friday as sunset approaches a pair of candles are lit in honour of the oncoming Shabbath. There is a tradition that an additional candle is lit for each living child. My wife lights 4 candles. One for the daughter that we are raising together and one for my Gabi that she never had the opportunity to even meet.
One of the scariest things in the world is knowing that I am the only person left in the world with the memories that are dear to my heart. As I quietly light a memorial candle, I can find some comfort in knowing that Gabi has not totally been forgotten. In some way her memory is making a positive contribution to the world, even though she was denied the opportunity.