I went to Miami last week for a small rabbinic retreat with some close colleagues led by my rabbinic coach, Rabbi Steve Kaye. It was a week of firsts. It was my first time away from my family since Sammy died. It was the first time I got on an airplane. It was my first time back in Florida. It was the first time I saw my cousin and her family since they visited us at Disney and engaged Sammy in what was undoubtedly his last best evening and morning in his life. It was the first time I stood on a beach since I had last been on a beach in Israel watching Sammy play in the sand, and run in and out of the water. As the tears well in my eyes now I remember why I tend to only write in my head.
It was a week of gratitude. I carved out time in the beginning and end of the trip specifically to see my aunt, uncle, cousin and her family in Boca Raton because I will never be able to express enough gratitude for the joy the cousins gave Sammy in their visit and the fire they lit in his eyes during a tiring and trying week. I can still see the fire in Sammy's eyes when I think back to that evening. He was all tucked into bed without a lick of fatigue to be seen on his face at 9:30 at night. He was riveted to the moment having his cousins surrounding him on his bed, next to his bed, across from his bed, asking him questions and engaging him in a conversation none of us ever wanted to end. Sam was his wonderful old self for the first time all week. It was the visits that week that made all the difference in the world. The parks could have mattered less to Sammy because his body betrayed him and he couldn't enjoy all the rides like he did in August (Thank God and the angels who made August possible too. Thank God for all the angels who carried us the whole way through our journey). But the guests made all the difference and the cousins created a moment for Sammy unlike anything any of us could have expected.
In Miami, I was grateful to be surrounded by chevrei (friends) that I trusted with my life and soul as I took my first tentative steps onto sand, standing on a shore thousands of miles away from the last shore I stood upon, literally a lifetime away (only ten weeks ago). I looked out at the waves and the horizon surrounded by strength and love with no more answers than I had from the last eighteen months. I gain more strength each day, but I don't expect any more answers than I already have. Just questions, endless questions.
So this last week was a week of firsts to begin filling a lifetime of firsts, inspiring me to write for the first time in a while.