Early in my days here in Modi'in I passed a sign that said בית עלמין, Beit Almin. "What's that?", I asked Isaac. "That's the cemetery", he replied. I digested the fact and tucked it away.
But now I know, and I wish I didn't.
I wish I didn't now know exactly where it was. I wish I didn't now know that to get there, you have to drive up a smooth, curvy road, park and then hike a bit uphill. I wish I didn't now know that the cemetery of Modi'in is nestled on a beautiful, green hill on the edge of the Ya'ar Ben Shemen, the Ben Shemen Forest, where on a clear day you can see Tel-Aviv in the distance. I wish I didn't now know that minutes away from my home are dozens of hiking paths where flowers bloom in January and trees grow so tall they brush the perfect, blue sky.
And I wish I didn't now know how the silence of a Friday morning in the forest can be broken by four sobbing children who, the previous day said good-bye to their mother in the morning and returned home to find out that she was no longer with them. And a husband who said as he buried her, "I loved you, I love you and I will always love you."
She was a colleague of mine, a native Israeli who greeted me warmly when I started a new job in a new language in my new country. She always had a smile, a warm greeting, was beloved at work, and apparently throughout the city of Modi'in and beyond from what I saw at the funeral.
I wish I still didn't know exactly where the Modi'in cemetery is.
But I'm proud to have known Tchiya, z"l. המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלם
May her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
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