Glasgow – March 14, 1997

Well, here I am at home. I do the things I have to do – the meals, the bed, the wash – and then I wander from room to room – thinking of Yonatan – looking at photos – thinking of you – wishing there was some magic that could take the ache away - knowing that there isn’t - knowing that to lose Yonatan has been such an incredibly cruel blow – one you must face up to again and again each day, each night. And now I’m drawn back to the photos, studying them – remembering when he was little, when he was Yontie, full of that enthusiasm for whatever he was doing – the enthusiasm that never changed even when he grew up and became Yonatan… Each day was The Day in his life.

The photos tell so much about him – have you noticed in them how often he holds his head to one side? – just a little shy (without his knowing it) – as he does in that wonderful picture (he was in uniform) at the kitchen table – grown up now, and with such humour and such sweetness in his face. So many people have talked about how mature he was, how responsible, but from quite small, he was already “mature” - and such a little mensch! I have snapshots of him in my head – taking off across a field full of stubble to “see Abba…” – singing “sha shtiel” for an amazed Shenk – the no-nonsense command to Boaz, “I will jump and you will laugh!” (And, of course, Boaz obliging… he wasn’t even sitting up yet but was already a devoted slave to his big brother.) And later, in Rochester, when Yontie had to go to the doctor, and suddenly Shashamutzah was declared to be a “doctor dog…” In New York, Yontie shouting down the lift to the woman who’d just pronounced him ‘The politest little boy,’ “Goodbye, old sluggy!” (And her look of horror as the lift door closed…)

Then off I wander again to the real photos. The fridge is covered and everything I do in the kitchen is delayed while I gaze at each photo. What is beautiful to see, in many photos, is the love Yonatan shows for Boaz, for Maya – for each of you. In the biggest photo we have, where Yonatan is sitting sort of sideways, leaning forward, the expression in his eyes is caught so perfectly – that this photo I can hardly pass at all.

But who can bear the thought that photo and memories are all we’re to have of him now! We want him – not photos or memories. Nothing warned me that without Yonatan, our world would be so lonely, that there would be such an emptiness. And if me, how then you! Each, in your own way, trying to start life again without the one who brought happiness into your life, just by being himself, by being Yonatan.

But the heartbreak comes not only from what we have lost, but from knowing what he has lost. Will we ever again see young people happy together without the thought, “He should be there!” Or people engrossed in work they love… or a beautiful field… or a serene sunset… or a new father holding his first child… no, it’s useless, there’s only anguish there.

We must – we have to – look back, though, to the good times: the joy of knowing and loving Yonatan, and being loved in return – all that happiness doesn’t just evaporate. It’s there – to warm us when we feel cold – to comfort us when we’re lost – to be with us when we feel alone.

Love to each of you.


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