We buried you on a Friday. It was the summer solstice. Your mom rubbed circles on my back as they lowered your simple wooden box into the ground. Your dad spoke to no one, his clothing ripped on the right side. Everyone grabbed a handful of dirt and dropped it on your coffin. Tears ran down my cheeks and splashed onto my hands, but not because you were dead — you weren’t — I cried because of the thumbtacks I’d slipped into the straps of my cork wedges. Every step pushed the pin into a new inch of flesh. How else could I grieve for you, Tavi? You weren’t dead. You promised.
Hundreds of people turned out for your burial. At the end, your family friends from Temple formed two lines, facing each other, and recited, “Hamakom y’nachem etchem b’toch sh’ar availai tziyon ee yerushalayim,” as your parents made their way to their car.
Your mom told me later, while she sat Shiva, that it was a traditional condolence. “Those are words for the living.”
When Leib jumped into her lap and pushed his head against her hand, I almost let slip that he’d been our best experiment. Leib was one life down from nine, but we’d brought him back, and now he’d never die. We’d breathed life into his body three days after suffocating him in the basement.