Yesterday was (would have been) Liz's 24th birthday. It was also her mother's birthday as well. It's been on my mind so much lately, though most of those thoughts are the same ones I've had ever since Liz's health began to deteriorate so rapidly. I had the same thoughts on my own birthday, not knowing that she would be gone only two days later. What is this number, "24"? What does it mean to be 24 years old? It's so young. There's so much that I haven't done. There's no way that I've accomplished whatever it is that Hashem put me here in order to accomplish. Why did He cut short the life of someone so talented, so good, so beautiful on both the inside and the outside, when she would undoubtedly have accomplished so much? The world was a better place with her in it. And why am I still here? What makes me so deserving? Why should I reach that 24th birthday and Liz shouldn't?
I know that I will never know the answer to any of these questions. That doesn't stop me from asking them.
This shabbos was such a strange one for me. In some ways, Friday was more difficult emotionally, as I was dreading waking up on the 5th and remembering that Liz wasn't turning 24 that day. There were very few ulpanistim here for shabbos, which was something of a blessing. I didn't have to talk to people. I stayed home and davened on my own in the morning, because I felt like I just needed the private time with Hashem, my tefillot and my thoughts. After lunch, I came back to my room and learned on my own. Naturally, I cried on my own as well.
It wasn't being on my own that made me feel so lonely, though. It was not having anyone to talk to who was also remembering what November 5th used to mean. It was being 7 hours ahead of Pittsburgh and not being able to call Jon and Veronica (Liz's parents). I longed for the comfort that's only come with talking to my college friends. I wanted Tabitha or Mark or Allan or Paco or Mikey or Macraild or Helen...or any number of my friends from WashU who are on the other side of the world. I wanted my mother and father and brother and sister-type people who know me and love me and have been helping me cope.
I stayed up until it was late enough here that shabbos was over in Pittsburgh, and then I called Liz's parents. Talking to Veronica was everything I needed. Today I got an email from Nisha, one of Liz's high school friends. I need that contact so much these days. Jacque is the only person here who I've talked to about Liz, but it's so hard to convey to a new friend just what someone means to you. Anyone who ever met Liz doesn't need that kind of explanation.
November 5th has come and gone. It's another reason why November is my least favorite month. This shabbos, November 12, is my grandmother's secular yahrzeit. It's something else I can't convey to people who don't know me and don't understand how important my grandmother was to me. I find myself grateful that I have my own room. I don't mind being alone with my thoughts. It's the loneliness that comes from being far away that makes this so hard.