I’m five years old. Long Shabbos afternoons are so boring. The only thing that breaks the monotony is Bubby; she’s willing to play with me. We play the same game every Shabbos. We take one of my crinolines – one that has an attached undershirt – and use it as my gown. A half slip goes over my hair as a veil.
And every Shabbos afternoon, Bubby walks me down the long hallway of her apartment to meet my chosson. The hallway stretches from the back of the apartment all the way to the front, miles to my young eyes. Bubby is dressed in her Shabbos best, her short, ashy-blond sheitel and Shabbos clothes that only my Bubby can wear.
Together, we walk down the aisle to meet my imaginary chosson. He always has the same name: Moshe Zacks. I’m not sure where that name came from. I have no recollection of ever having met a Moshe Zacks. But somehow, I know that that’s my chosson’s name.
We walk down the hallway with measured steps, circle the designated chair seven times, and lift up my makeshift veil.
I’m married. Again.
Time passes. I’ve grown up a bit. Now I’m almost ten.
Bubby’s been in the hospital, and I don’t know why. I’m too young for adults to tell me what’s wrong, too young to understand what’s happening, too young to comprehend what happens when death touches a family.
Too young to lose my only grandmother.
But I did.
She won’t be with me when I walk down the aisle to meet my real chosson (whose name is not Moshe Zacks). She won’t be there to help me get dressed in the pristine white gown that I’m going to wear to walk down the aisle with measured steps. She won’t hold my hand as I circle him seven times to build the wall around him as we start our new lives together.
And she won’t be there to hug me and wish us mazel tov as we make our way back from the chupa. She won’t be there to dance with me; she won’t be there to wish me joy in my new life.
She won’t be there to see her great-grandchildren that I hope to bring into this world. And she won’t be there to watch me raise them in her derech.
Most of all, she won’t be there to alleviate the boredom of my five year old daughters by playing the same game on those long Shabbos afternoons. She won’t be there to dress my daughters in crinolines and slips and walk them down the long hallway of her apartment to meet their imaginary chassanim.
Every Shabbos afternoon.
15 hours ago