Herschel could not easily get away for vacations. He did not enjoy traveling as much as I did. That was until our trip to New York at the beginning of November 2009. It was the first time we’d driven somewhere for a weekend away. It was an action packed weekend and we had a great time. We saw family and friends, participated in a family wedding (he even danced!), enjoyed the scenery, and each other’s company.
Herschel had a chance to see Prospect Park (he admired Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape designer for that park). I took him up to Connecticut to visit relatives and friends – this was the first time he’d ever been in New England. At the end of the weekend, we got lost leaving New York. This was a gift! Our personal GPS (read: our nephew) re-routed us via Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge. My husband was an avid Yankee fan and thrilled to view the new stadium. I took the upper deck of the Bridge so that Herschel could look up and down the Hudson River as we crossed into New Jersey. He was thrilled. And I was happy to treat him to a cross-country excursion.
We returned to Cleveland, looking forward to traveling together again. That was not to be.
I’m traveling by myself again. As I drove today, I saw the scenery through Herschel’s eyes. The trees are bare and I tried to see the forms of the branches against the grey sky. The tree-lined hills looked different to me today than they had in the past. I imagined the tall bare trunks were soldiers, standing at attention. There was snow on some of the hills – white snow in stark contrast to the brown and black branches. Herschel would have noticed those details.
I really felt alone during the drive. Even though I had traveled by myself during the past five years, today there was a strong sense that it was just me. No one waiting for me at home. Herschel would not be calling me several times to check on my progress.
Yet I felt his presence. And I asked him to watch over me as I drove through the wind and blowing snow. He did. I arrived safely.
Herschel and I are each on our respective journeys. He to the Garden. And me to an unknown destination. I’ll do my best to enjoy the trip.
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I dedicate this memory to Herschel Avraham ben Simcha Yosef.