The underlying message here is that sometimes this world can
seem futile and full of grief (such as in this story when
these two sisters are grieving over the loss of their mother)
but in the next world, each moment is perfectly preserved for
eternity (as R Tatz' quote explains at the end) so that the
answer to the sense of futility is really eternity.
Sometimes, when a loved one is lost, there is nothing to be
done . . .
This is a piece about two sisters dealing honestly with their
grief, and mourning the passage of time as well. What do you
Dust and Sun
by Sara Gutfreund
The sky is filling with rage
Not deep red fury that streaks across the sky
But subtle shades of orange
Filling the room with invisible swirls of heat
The sun slips through a space in the curtain
And shines forth its blinding, thoughtless glare
The burning streets look like black water
And the dust settles upon the trees in slow waves
There are five wooden tables in the restaurant
At one a man sits alone reading his newspaper
The table near the door has two young sisters chatting
And near the window sit two middle-age sisters
The words from their conversations meet in the quiet
Table 1: I can't believe I'm a kallah, there's so much
Did you find an apartment yet?
Table 2: I can't believe that Mommy has been gone almost a
I know it seems like yesterday
Table 1: We just signed the lease, and tomorrow I have my
first sheitel appointment
That's so exciting, are you going to get one curly like your
Table 2: All the time, even a year later, I pick up the phone
to call Mommy and then I remember
Don't you believe that she can hear you where she is?
I don't know
Don't you believe that we'll be re-united with her one
I don't know. I only know that she's not here
Table 1: What colors do you think I should have at my
Peach and sky blue; that will be perfect for a summer
wedding. Have you shopped for your linens yet?
Table 2: But maybe she really is here. I know that I can't
see her. I know what I've lost
You know Mommy loved life so much, remember how much she
wanted to live even at the very end?
What did she love about life?
What kind of question is that?
Table 1: How's your new job going?
It's great! Just very tiring because first graders have so
much energy, I can't keep up with them. Are you going to
work next year?
Oh, I don't think so. Moshe wants me to be home and I'm
really looking forward to it actually. I'll be on my own
schedule, cook all those new recipes, decorate the new
apartment and finally get to some shiurim
Table 2: Everything ends, everyone we love leaves
But they're not really leaving. They're just going to the
How do you know?
What if there is no next world?
How can you ask that?
How can you not ask?
Because I believe. Like you used to believe. What's happened
to you? Mommy would be very upset
I know, I know. I just don't know what to think anymore. It
seems like everything is just so pointless
Table 1: We just got the photographer from Shani's wedding.
Remember how beautiful those pictures were!
Yeah, he's a great photographer. When will your dress be
It will be ready at the end of the week. Will you come with
me to see it?
Of course! I can't wait. You're going to look so
Table 2: Remember how Mommy looked in the end. That was so
That wasn't her, it was just a shell
It was still so sad
Table 1: Mommy said that she's going to give me those gold
china dishes that Grandma gave her, and she found the nicest
watch for Moshe
Table 2: Mommy said that she wanted to say good-bye But she
What did you want her to say?
By this time the sun is beginning to set
The conversations wind down
And soon the tables are clear
The sisters walk out
Only one pair
Because that's all there is
They look at the table by the door
Where they had sat so long ago
And now they can see the ghosts of themselves
Laughing and chatting
Oblivious to the ebbing of the day
"It is important to see that deep faith is an
indispensable element in sensing life's joy. Life's closures
of opportunity cause pain . . . But real faith transmutes
this: the knowledge that as each precious moment passes and
dies, as each relationship ends as all must, each of these
transiences is being exported to an eternal zone; each event
and experience is being transmuted into its perfect version
(Rav Akiva Tatz Letters to a Buddhist Jew)