A Letter to Sara

Dear Sara,

I remember how once we decided we were going to make dinner together and then how we decided we should do it more often. You made the best chicken. Had I been able to see into the future, I would’ve made the time to eat dinner together more often.

I met you 10 months ago, in a seemingly random twist of fate. I was searching for an apartment in Jerusalem, close to the central bus station so that I could easily travel to Ber Sheva. After several unsuccessful and frustrating attempts in my apartment/roommate search, I posted on Facebook that I was desperately seeking an apartment immediately. I am not sure how or why, but a mutual friend saw this post and put me in contact with your then roommate who was leaving the apartment and searching for a replacement. I was eventually put in contact with you and you interviewed me via Skype and decided it was OK for me to live with you. I was in America at the time and you in Israel. I am not sure why you decided to trust that a simple Skype meeting would be sufficient. Then again, I am not sure of a lot of things. How I came to be your roommate is one of them.

I remember the night I moved into the apartment. You had just celebrated your 25th birthday and I had just flown in from the U.S. I was tired and homesick and I don’t really remember much from that first encounter. I recall that it took us awhile to become friends. You were the one in charge of our apartment, but not dictatorially like many roommates can be. You quietly paid the water, gas and electric bills and simply let us know when and how much we had to pay. You didn’t resent us for our lack of initiative in transferring the bills to any of our names and that was good because, as you know, it took me awhile to get used to everything…Israeli-bill paying included.

I received a phone call from a private number. It was the police. They asked me if I knew you. They asked me to come down to the hospital because the situation wasn’t good.

I have a tendency to be somewhat scattered-brained. You had patience for this and turned off my iron when I forgot to do so. You ran to the makolet, grocery store, for me right before closing so that I would have something to eat after a long day in Ber Sheva. You accepted my paranoia of gas stoves and never acted annoyed that I sometimes called you while you were sleeping to check that I hadn’t forgotten to turn off the oven. You patiently reassured me that the chicken that I defrosted wasn’t spoiled or that the eggs that I had purchased just a few days earlier weren’t rancid. I always told you that you knew everything. And you really did.

You met Ari around the same time that I met Amichai. We were both starting new, promising relationships and were hopeful that this time would be different. You were there for me throughout the duration of our courtship. You listened to my stories and my concerns. You allowed me to stand in the doorway of your bedroom and you listened as I talked. When we got engaged, you were there with a hug and pretty decorations and I know that you played a role in helping me to find my husband.

You decided to visit your family in Canada. I am so glad that you did this. You, being the wonderful friend you were, booked your ticket to return early for my wedding. I was so looking forward to seeing you and Ari. Had I known what was to happen, I would have wished you had stayed with your family longer. You returned from Canada and Ari was waiting for you, in his Navy Force uniform at Ben Gurion airport with a ring in a box. You said yes and when you returned to the apartment I was so thrilled for you. You were two of the kindest people I knew and you deserved each other because you made each other happy.

As is customary, the Shabbat before my wedding, my family hosted a Shabbat Kallah, a sort of bittersweet sendoff for a bride the Shabbat before her wedding. There was a misunderstanding and you thought you were to be staying with my family the whole Shabbat. I freaked out because I didn’t think we would have room in the crowded, hot apartment which my parents were renting. I told you that if you were able to make plans for the Sabbath, and then join us for later in the day that would be ideal. You said you would try. I messaged you after saying that I considered you part of the family and that we would make room. I am so glad I did that, Sara. And I replay in my head everyday what would have happened if I hadn’t.

At my Shabbat Kallah you rounded up about 35 people and initiated a game in which everyone was to choose an object in the room and give me and Amichay a blessing based on that object. The event was hosted in an assisted living home and you blessed me and Amichai with a long life and everlasting love, even when we became old and lived in a nursing home.

Could you have blessed yourself with the same?

On Monday afternoon, I received a phone call from a private number. It was the police. They asked me if I knew you. They asked me to come down to the hospital. They called me because you once listed my number as a contact at the police station when your phone was stolen. They were trying to get a hold of your parents or someone who they could talk to because “the situation wasn’t good.” I thought it was a prank call. You were healthy and young and you just spent an entire Shabbat with me. The police handed over the call to the social worker who pleaded with me to somehow get in contact with your parents. They couldn’t unlock your phone. I called and messaged anyone I could think of.

I was informed of your death a few hours later.

On Monday night, as your soul departed this world, I, in the custom of Jewish brides before their wedding, went to the Mikva (ritual bath) to prepare my body and soul for uniting with my husband. As my family prepared for my wedding, your family was flying in for your funeral which was to take place at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, August 19th; around the very same time and day that my wedding was to take place. I messaged our roommates telling them that they should attend your funeral. You would have done the same.

As my body was prepared for my wedding, yours was for your burial. At the same time that your parents accompanied you to your final resting place, my parents walked me to the chuppa. Your family sat shiva for you as people made Sheva Brachot for us and my family. I searched for your face amongst those who had come to dance with me at my wedding and my happiness on that day wasn’t entirely complete.

Sara, who I lived with for 10 months, who taught me to be kind for its own sake, who taught me to say little and to do much, who was loyal and patient and strong and honest. One of the last acts you did on this earth was to fulfill the commandment of gladdening bride and groom. And then, you died and I don’t understand why. But I needed to tell someone about this.

And you weren’t there to comfort me.