Finally, I cried, it was stuck in my throat for the past week.
I did a million things, worked, went out, ate, laughed, shopped but I knew it was coming, like when you know you have a big exam coming and you are not ready for it, like when you have to go to the doctor and you keep postponing, like when you have to face a loved one and need to break up for the best of both.
It was coming.
I wanted to cry the whole week, instead, I laughed. I thought better like this. I love to laugh.
This morning I broke down, listening to a song that reminded me of you.
You see, my fear is letting you down, not being up to your expectation, although you never asked me for anything, you just wanted me to sit next to you all the time, to hold you. You never asked for anything, not a toy, not a snack, not a doll... you were the best.
Every time I asked you how you feel you said “hakol b’seder (all okay),” and smiled with your blue eyes and cherry lips. You were white like snow.
Yesterday I was with my beautician, Michal, she’s the best, she’s a woman full of life and character, she does my nails, my eyelashes, and my eyebrows but soon I feel she will be doing a lot more. Every time I go to her, she starts telling me what else I need to do, why don’t we work on your cheeks, and lips eventually…
I always promise her we’ll do it and leave always just with manicures and lashes done; all the rest scares me.
Usually, I love going to her and just being silent and listening to my thoughts in my head, it’s my “me time,” but Michal, God bless her, loves to talk, she’s an army commander, while she works on me, she’s talking on the phone, greeting the next client, screaming at her kids and telling me a story.
Michal knows me but doesn’t really know me; I am a sort of a mystery to her.
WE CLICKED instantly maybe because we are so different, she takes me any time when she knows I have an interview to do and I need her to get me camera ready, she advises me what to wear, she calls me mami (sweetie) and neshama (soul) like the real Israelis do even if they know you only for five minutes but she doesn’t really know me and she never asked and I never told her anything about me.
I know everything about her, she has asthma, she smokes a pack a day, she’s always on a diet, her lips are fake, her breasts are fake, she doesn’t want more children, she loves her job, (she’s the best at it) and she has a heart of gold.
Today she told me, as she’s working on my nails, how she had to take her daughter for a very basic checkup at Hadassah Hospital and she left crying and thanking God her child is ok after she had taken the elevator to the wrong floor and ended up in the children’s oncology floor.
“You have no idea what’s going on there, Elokiiiiim (God), the kids look terrible there, gray; they have a gray color skin! Hashem yishmor (may God protect us).”
I am frozen but she can’t see me, cause she’s busy working on my French manicure.
Michal doesn’t know I lived on that floor with my daughter for one long year.
Michal doesn’t know I lost a child.
I don’t say a word, I cannot tell her now, she would feel so bad, I know her, she wouldn’t want to hurt a fly.
Suddenly she picks up her face and looks at me as if she had heard my thoughts.
“You know what I mean? We have to thank God every day for our kids and their health and ours too!”
Yes, certainly I answer back, you are right.
Now I will never be able to tell her my story, she will die of embarrassment.
So what, I think, let her think I’m just a pretty face, life is much easier.
Suddenly, I realized how quickly we judge others without even knowing their story. We think we know them, but we don’t.
IF I told Michal that out of the five children I have, one is gone she would cry in front of me, smoke three cigarettes, and never charge me again.
Because Michal has a golden heart. I don’t want her to feel like this.
I have used my superpowers or maybe Navi Powers when I needed something and the only way was to play that disastrous card of the “I lost a child”, but I might have used it only for bureaucratic reasons and with people that I will never see again. It’s my black humor moment and I call it the Navi powers, because it’s hard to say no when a mother says that horrible phrase.
It’s unfair though, I agree, but sometimes I just don’t care.
With the people I met after Navi, I care about them, but I try not to expose myself too much, it could be tough for them.
I want to be normal in their eyes like all others.
But what do we know what others go through for real?
As I drive home I keep hearing Michal’s voice echoing in my head “You had to see those sick kids and their eyes, so sad... ”
I try to forget it and turn on the radio.
I cry. Good, now it’s coming out, it has to, and then I’ll be able to continue my day.
As I come home my husband comes over to me and shows me a box.
“You will not believe what I got.”
He was at a neighbor’s house two buildings down when he gave him a box and told my husband that he doesn’t need it. My husband was surprised, they are not good friends, just friendly neighbors, he’s an older man and needed a favor from Yossi.
My husband takes the box and makes his way home, but when he opens it, he is shocked.
Inside the box was a beautiful glass menorah and there’s a small tag with a dedication to some family name from Nava.
I looked shocked at the menorah.
You never know someone’s story, just like Michal didn’t know about my daughter and it hit my heart, this man, a new neighbor, also does not know our story and that we have a daughter that left us on the first night of Hanukkah and her name was Nava.
He just wanted to thank Yossi for the help he gave him on some small thing he did for him, and just handed him the box.
We’re not sure if it’s his, if he wanted to get rid of it, if it’s garbage, or if he didn’t realize what he was giving him.
Somehow that box had to get to us.
On the silver tag on the menorah is written: “To Boaz from my heart and soul, Nava.”
I don’t know who Boaz is but I do know who Nava is.
For the good or the bad, you never know what someone else’s story might be.
Be careful because either you might hurt someone’s heart, or you could be the messenger from an angel.
And you will never know.
Guess what menorah we used this Hanukkah? Thank you Nav, I know this is from you.
The writer is from Italy, lives in Jerusalem and heads HadassahChen Productions. A director and performer, she also heads the Keren Navah Ruth Foundation, in memory of her daughter, to assist families with sick children. [email protected]