March, 1998

Memories of Shelly

Memories of Shelly
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Dear Friends

Beverly Warshai - "Morah Bev"
Bev taught music in Shelly's kindergarten class, and was the teacher's aid in second grade
written 1-18-99

I remember in kindergarten Shelly was already showing that she had a mind of her own. When I came in to teach her class some Hebrew each day I had to think of ways to keep her interested and engaged since Shelly made it very clear that she didn't need the Hebrew, or didn't feel like learning a song, since she already knew it. Shelly was not disruptive to the rest of the class but she had an opinion and she was very clearly going to stick to it. I think I saw the same characteristic in the second grade too and it became a definite strength that I admired in her. I saw it in particular in the way she was determined to keep on going even as her life became more complicated. What comes to mind was when one day in class I saw her over by the coat rack and backpacks. Even though one of her arms was very weak she was determined, smart, and resourceful. Shelly had gotten something out of her backpack and in order to close it all by herself she held the backpack with her strong arm and pulled on the zipper tab with her teeth. I had come over to offer assistance but she very kindly told me she would do it by herself. I only hope to God that I may have the strength of heart that Shelly showed me at that moment.

Bev wanted to publish three more sections she wrote to Shelly and after her death.

I had made a card for Shelly when she was no longer able to come to our classroom. On the cover I traced a picture of Winnie the Pooh. Inside I wrote :

Dear Shelly,
I think of you often and send you warm and loving thoughts each time. Even though I am not in the room with you, I often feel like you are in the room with me (or where ever it is that I am at). For example, a few weeks ago I was at the clothing store with my daughter Yael and we saw a sweatshirt with Winnie the Pooh on it. Well, guess who I thought of? You! It was like that picture you drew so beautifully of your room with all of your stuffed animals on your bed including, of course, Pooh.
I've always liked Pooh a lot too. You see, once when I was younger and lived in Israel for the year, I was very scared of all sorts of changes that were going on around me. I felt very lonely and frightened of everything. But, when I looked at Pooh I would feel better and calmer. Pooh was the one thing around me that always stayed the same and didn't change - not Pooh, or the happy feeling I felt when I looked at Pooh.the happy feeling I felt when I looked at Pooh.
I also think of you and send you my thoughts and prayers for R'fuah Shlemah whenever I see hats. Cute hats, funny hats, colorful hats. You've got some great hats. I had never noticed hats much before, but now I smile and think up different kinds and shapes of hats.
I wanted to let you know that I think of you and your family, and wish you strength, as you go through these difficult times.
Love, Morah Bev

Then, in January I wrote:

Dear Ruti and Howard,
I have often thought about calling you but is usually late in the evening when things in our house finally settle down and I have time to think for a few minutes of my own. I assume it is too late at night to be polite and call you so I tell myself to remember to do it the next day. Then when I do remember I am not near a phone.
I think of you and the horrible grief you must still be feeling. Tears well up in my eyes and usually overflow when I think of the terrible loss of Shelly. I wanted to share with you that I think of you and her too.
Tonight I am especially sad. You see, I am busy sitting down and writing notes about the children in Kitah Bet to give Aron, in order to help him write up his evaluation/report cards. I had written on a few of the kids and was thinking of who should be next when I broke down in tears because I felt that Shelly should be next and it wasn't fair that I wouldn't have the chance to write notes about her too. I'd like to do it still, but my heart is hurting too much right now to do so.
It just isn't right. No child, parent, or family should have to go through what you have experienced. Just two years ago other friends of mine, lost their 17 year old daughter . She was at a ve'eidah convention over winter break . They had talked to her on the phone in the evening about meeting her at the airport the next day when she was to return home. But later, in the middle of the night they received a phone call that she had been rushed to the hospital after collapsing on the floor and had died of spinal meningitis. My heart aches from all of this.

April 12th, 1999

I think of you when writing report cards for the class, when I see the tree planted in your memory, when I see kids wearing hats, and Winnie the Pooh shirts in the clothing store. I think of you when I do my pesach cleaning. Then when I hear the four questions asked I ask another one - Why?
Now while doing taxes I take pause when I read the part of the directions about a qualifying child, about how a child who died in 1998 is considered to have lived with you for all of the year. My heart skips a beat and I want to say "Don't they know, of course that the child lives with them all year, every day, over and over, she is in their hearts, and tears, and thoughts more than anyone can put into words sometimes.

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created by Ruti Volk
last updated 1-25-99