Today was the last full day of Ronen’s life, one year ago.
On June 1, 2017, Ronen was healthy. He picked up a new pair of glasses after work. He texted me to come meet him out, my parents had just come into town for Lev and my mother’s birthdays on the fourth and could have watched the kids, but I was too tired. I will always wish for the rest of my life that I had not been too tired. That we could have had one last night of just us, because they were so few and far between.
He came home, we ate dinner, we went to sleep, we woke up, he left for work and that was it. The last time I saw him alive, the last time the boys saw him ever.
I was granted the opportunity to write about Ronen in The Atlanta Journal Constitution in March. It was a gift, really, a cathartic gift even as hard as it was to be so publicly vulnerable.
Today, I wasn’t really sure that I had anything else to say. May and now June, and the waves of grief are pulling me, and everyone else who loved him under again. The sadness feels like a mac truck idling on my chest.
I sat with the boys at lunch this afternoon, a makeshift picnic on the floor, and we talked about all of the things we miss about Ronen, about Aba.
“I just miss everything”, said Lev solemnly. He will be three on Monday.
“Do you remember how he used to snap?” asked Ari.
“The best snaps,” I said.
“And clap!” said Lev, brightening. “The loudest claps!”
“The loudest,” Ari agreed. “Ema, how were they so loud?”
“He had the biggest, most beautiful hands,” I said. “Like yours.”
“And remember, he would take the biggest bites?” asked Lev.
“He loved apples and bananas,” Ari told Lev. “He always had a banana.”
We went back and forth like this for a while, their memories bittersweet for me. Because of course, they are just memories now. Ronen is gone. He has been gone a year. He has missed so much. And he will continue to miss and be missed for the rest of our lives.
This has happened. This is us.
When I think about Ari and Lev becoming young men, about telling friends and partners: My Aba died when I was five, and My Aba died right after I turned two, my heart implodes.
How unfair. And how completely and utterly unexpected, like a freight train barreling over you in the middle of a meadow.
But I also know, through the kindness and empathy others have shown, by the strength and resilience Ari and Lev have been able to personally summon, that the horror of this tragedy will not define them.
And that is something to be grateful for today, even as the mac truck refuses to budge. So I will be.