I've been away for over a year, really. A million excuses: the computer died (a couple of times); work demands; family demands; exhaustion from both of the former.....if something had to give way, it was time for blogging.
But I'm heartbroken, and this is where I come to say so.
We all live in overlapping circles--circles of friends, circles of work acquaintances, circles of family members, circles of neighbors. Most people's lives can be charted like giant Venn diagrams.
I started blogging about aliyah to Israel right before we left the Old Country. I met other bloggers here and connected with other bloggers across the world.
But in my Venn diagram of friends/neighbors/bloggers I met one special blogger. And now she has left us for HaOlam HaBa.
I first met her before I moved. I was on Tachlis looking for a swim instructor for my son. Rivka wrote and told me about her swim lessons, about Ramat Rachel and the area.
I saw her there often, teaching the kids and clearly having a great old time. I didn't connect the feisty red-head with the woman who was writing "Chemo and Coffee" in the blogosphere. How could I? To watch Rivka teach swimming to children was to watch what appeared to be boundless love and energy in motion.
Later, through other blogs, I started lurking at Chemo and Coffee. I lurked not because I'm shy (I'm not) but because the subject matter frightened me. Every woman in my mother's family has dealt with or is dealing with breast cancer. I lurked, and in lurking, I learned.
I didn't learn to NOT fear breast cancer. Rather, I learned that how you handle your life with breast cancer is more important that the disease itself. That faith, friends and a sense of humor count for a lot. That ultimately, a woman of valor defines her own life and doesn't let cancer define it for her.
At the first blogger's convention, I saw the swim teacher from Ramat Rachel...."what is she doing here?" I wondered, and snuck by for a quick look at her name tag. And stopped dead in my tracks. "You're Rivka!" I blurted. I knew from her blog that Rivka was a red-head, and a swim teacher, but I hadn't quite put together those facts with the dynamo I saw at Ramat Rachel!
We chatted, and later found out that we are neighbors--she lived "up the hill" from me in Har Homa. I once gave her a ride to Hadassah hospital when her regular ride couldn't handle a last minute change of plans. Besides probably scaring her to death with my driving (she never asked me for a ride again) the most noticeable thing about this trip to Hadassah (where I had to confront MANY women being treated for breast cancer) was the warmth and happiness just seeing Rivka brought to other patients and even to staff. She was clearly a source of comfort and strength to the caregivers and patients both.
I had so much faith in HER faith that I convinced myself that she would be with us until 120....the news of her death was devastating.
I feel like I didn't do enough for her or her family. I feel that in learning so much from her, I gave so little in return. I feel helpless and heartbroken that a wonderful woman, neighbor, teacher, and mother is gone.
Her memory is already a blessing. May HaShem grant us all the grace and courage and humor Rivka exemplified in extreme adversity.
May her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion of Jerusalem.