Note: There are a lot of Jewish phrases in this post that I honestly really don’t care to translate (sorry).
Also, I’m not posting this so people will feel bad for me. If anything, that’s the last thing I want. I’m posting this because I feel the time is right for others to know how special he was. -Rafi
I haven’t publicly opened up to so many people on this matter based on the sensitivity of the topic, but recently my son’s second Yahrtzeit was commemorated. In a nutshell, Shlomo Amatzya Lev was born very sick with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) on Shabbat, January 7, 2012 and passed away on February 29th, 2012 (6 Adar) at 7.5 weeks. To say he was loved and looked after for every minute of his life (and before) would be a gross understatement. There really are no words to justify why he had to suffer so much in so short a time, then leave behind two parents who loved him in such an indescribable way. He didn’t sin, but only did Mitzvos by lying in that hospital bed and getting people to daven for him. I also want to add that considering that this is his second Yahrtzeit, time really flies as I personally remember the entire ordeal as if it were yesterday.
Two Shabbosim ago (Parshas Terumah) my father-in-law and I held a hot Kiddush at Shomrai Shabbos Chevrah Mishnayos in Toronto in his memory, featuring cholent, kugel and some whisky. I said a 2-minute Dvar Torah on the similarities of giving Terumah “with a good heart” because it’s the right thing to do, how we spent every Shabbos in the hospital, exhausting every physical and spiritual resource without thinking twice because “it’s the right thing to do,” and that when life throws us curveballs, we need to act first and think later because it’s the right thing to do, Naaseh V’Nishmah.
Last Wednesday night I was able to Daven for the Amud, though I’m B”H not a Chiyuv (I don’t have to pray for everyone). To my luck, there weren’t any Chiyuvim in the audience, allowing me to do so. Again, it’s not something that needed to be done, but I felt it was the right thing to do.
Last Thursday was Shlomo’s Yahrtzeit. I went to Shul where my father-in-law held an additional weekday morning Kiddush. I received an Aliyah to the Torah in his memory and silently wished that I could have been present for his Aliyah at a Bar Mitzvah that will sadly never be celebrated. Words cannot describe how sad I felt and how much self-control I needed to exhibit so as not to burst out crying.
Earlier today, on my day off from work, my wife Batsheva and I visited his grave at Bathurst Lawn cemetary and said some Tehillim and prayers. Considering that the snow was piled quite high and nobody plowed it, we ended up trudging to the grave while knee-deep in snow. It was worth it. I noticed that it was snowing and mused that each time I visited the graveyard since the headstone unveiling, it either rained or snowed on that day. Go figure. I also remember it having snowed on the day of the funeral, and that it was bitterly cold – the coldest day of the winter, which says a lot considering it’s Canada – on the day his headstone was officially unveiled.
This year there will be two Yahrtzeits as he passed away on Adar. As this year is a leap year, there are two Adars, Adar 1 and Adar 2. We will light another Yartzeit candle and hopefully revisit his grave in a month’s time.
May the neshama of Shlomo Amatzya Lev ben Refael Yechezkel have an Aliyah.