I got the memo: “The life you were living is over. Deal with it.” Maybe it was a joke? A dream? I couldn’t be widowed at 25! I kept waking up, but Meirav still wasn’t there. It seems time is needed to process extreme and sudden changes in life.
Taking part in the “Hear Me Roar” YouTube series wasn’t an easy decision for me. Publicly reliving the day when the wadi, though never more beautiful, became so dark and gloomy. I pray that someone will receive comfort from the video.
We lived a simple life, with student jobs getting me through college. Meirav was so young, but she was already like a Yemenite grandma. The house was always so clean and organized. We never even bought bread – everything was made from scratch. Always fresh pitas and rolls that I took with me to school, while the kids were sent to friends’ houses with freshly baked cookies. She always played with the kids in the playground, even when the rest of the moms were on the side talking.
And then one day she wasn’t there anymore.
During the shiva, hundreds of people were walking around my apartment, all day, every day. I saw someone sleeping in my holy of holies, our bedroom. “Accept it, things have changed,” I told myself. It was a surreal feeling. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. People were surrounding me and their lips were moving, but I just couldn’t hear. Some comfort came from those who said nothing at all.
But I had to focus. To start thinking of what’s most important.
What is really important? First of all my kids. I couldn’t go running off to India to find and redefine myself. The kids needed structure and love. So I needed to stay put.
But my family lives in America. “Come back. You have the house waiting for you. We can easily get you a great job and we’ll all help with the kids,” they said. My family is a truly special one. I’m so close with my parents and each of my siblings. I love my friends from high school and miss them. But ideals and values aren’t tested when things are easy. I decided to stay in Israel. And I am so happy I did.
I now work as an R&D Engineer for a Jerusalem startup that uses virtual reality to rehabilitate people with balance issues. I’m in the last semester of my MBA, I have a passion for winemaking and I make time to go out with friends. And my kids: each one is so, so amazing.
Yes, it is hard. Very hard at times. But when I look around me I think, “Wow. My life is amazing.” I just sometimes wish I had someone to share it with.
“Why did this happen?” I heard this question from people around me. Honestly, it’s not something that occupies my thoughts. I don’t know, and I’m okay with not knowing. I’m not G-d and I don’t have all the answers. I’m not going to let it keep me down or meddle with my faith. There is something comforting in knowing that we don’t know why things happen. And I believe that things do happen for a reason.
Since that terrible day, we have chosen to remember Meirav through life. The vineyard Meirav and I helped plant with our wedding money is now called “Kerem Meirav” and it produces amazing wine at the Tom Winery. The Meirav Playground, a stone’s throw away from where she died, is filled with laughter and kids playing all day. There’s a cookbook with her recipes, a Sefer Torah that her father wrote, and a weekly arts and crafts get together for full-time moms, all in her memory.
It’s true, the life I was living is over. But life itself is amazing.
Ari Pollack is a high tech engineer, wine enthusiast and former beach bum from Rockaway, New York who moved to Israel after high school. Ari’s passions include his three amazing kids, music and winemaking at Tom Winery from the Kerem Meirav vineyard, named after his late wife. He has a BSc in Information Systems Engineering and is graduating from Ben Gurion University with his MBA.