Flutters

The sun is setting.  It is time.

I strike the match.  I light the flame.

I cry.

I need to light the other candles now.  The ones to bring in Shabbat. And pray for my family; my husband and my children…all my children…

So I strike another match.

I light one…two…three…four candles.

Four candles to represent my family…

Plus the one on the counter…the one that will burn all night…and all day…to represent the child we buried…

Five candles.

I set the table…one…two…three…four plates…and look over at the candle again.

We take our seats.

We eat.

We talk.

We look at the candle.

We tuck the kids in…one…two…beautiful, healthy children…and the candle still burns…

We slip under our covers.

He falls asleep.

And I start to feel…those flutters…

I stare at the ceiling.  I try not to go there, but my hands are already resting on my stomach, pressing down to find the flutters, to release them, and I am trying not to imagine, but the images are too powerful, and they flood my mind.

I am cutting through my body…

digging…

hands soaked with the blood of my child…

and I am desperate to find the beating heart I feel within me…

and hold it…

and protect it…

but no matter how much I dig…

how much I search…

I cannot find it…

and all I can do…

is lay here…

in a pool of pain…

and feel…

fluttering…

deep inside me…

where I cannot reach.

Later, I tell my husband, cautiously because I don’t think this is normal…

..how I have been feeling our child move inside me…

for eight years…

every single night…

and he reminds me…

how people can feel a limb that’s been amputated…

and I suddenly have the words to describe the phantom flutters of my phantom child…

and I cry…

and cry…

and cry.

B’Yeshiva Shel Maaleh…

I am in a bed with itchy blankets…lumpy pillows…and an empty…hollow…belly.  My son is down the hall, across from this ward…attached to life.  I am weak, scared and uncertain.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know if I can even join the many people who are praying for Tinok ben Bracha…for MY Tinok…

I answer the ringing cellphone gingerly, hoping this time there will be some sort of comfort on the other line.

It is my brother.

Hi…listen, I’m in yeshiva now…I just spoke to the Rosh Yeshiva…and he has a message for you…

I listen.  I wait for salvation.

He said to tell you that you should make him Kadosh.  He said he needs to be Kadosh…for Klal Yisroel…and he’ll be okay…

I hang up wearily.  It is not what I want.  I want a real boy.  One who will disobey me, run free…unfettered to any specific way of serving Hashem.  I know what Mirrer Yeshiva is…I don’t want a Mir boy…

I get up slowly and make my way towards my baby.  I cannot think of him as holy or special…when I have not yet seen him.

I am shaking as I approach his incubator.  The nurses move back for me.  I see him…I see his tiny, tiny body…I see the holes in his chest and the tubes protruding from him…I see his minuscule feet and delicate hands…his translucent skin…I see his heart valiantly beat.  His face is gaunt.  His lips are parched.  But…he is glowing…and he looks like me.

I put my finger in his palm.  I sing…I tell him he is surrounded by angels.  I tell him I love him.  And then I tell him I want him to be Kadosh…always.  I bless him with the strength to do whatever it is he is here to do…and to do it for us all.

I sing about the angels again and his fingers close around mine for just…a second….forever a second…

* * *

The Kotel seems to be beckoning me.  I part from my husband with tears in my eyes, clutching the tehillim to my chest.  My son is just down the road from me…surrounded by other beautiful babies…in a tomb I will never see.  I cannot speak…the words are not yet mine to say…so I hang my head in sorrow and grief…and prayer.  When I leave, I place my small book on a chair nearby…moving on.  Inside, I have written my blessing to my child…my desire that he be Kadosh and belong to everyone.

* * *

I read the news while sipping my coffee pensively.  The shock of the Rosh Yeshiva’s passing fades into an understanding of what he helped me do.  He gave me the strength to separate myself from what I wanted as a mother…and what Hashem wanted from my child.  He said I should make him Kadosh…for Klal Yisroel…and then he would be okay.  I did…and he is okay…and I am okay.

My son…like all Mir boys in the past twenty years…is a product of Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel.

* * *

There is a place…up above…where there is a special yeshiva…for children…who don’t need us…with a Rosh Yeshiva who is their Father…and now…they have another shiur to listen to…as Reb Nosson Tzvi begins…a new z’man.