Last year, the SJ Magazine family experienced a devastating tragedy when Exec. Editor Jayne Feld lost her 17-year-old son in a horrible car accident. In the months that have passed, Jayne has shared some personal thoughts for SJ Mag readers.

The hours, days and weeks after my son Ravi tragically died last year are pretty much a blur. The exception is the detailed memory I have of going into his empty room, digging through his never-folded laundry and picking out clothes for his funeral and burial. The outfit included an orange Beastie Boys T-shirt, yellow socks featuring the face of founding father Alexander Hamilton, his well-worn Nike sneakers and his Cherry Hill East ice hockey hoodie.

I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible for eternity. And yet it felt like a betrayal. If I parted with his favorite clothes, I thought, there was no taking this back. I would never be able to rewind to a time before April 3, 2021, the day of the accident that the rest of our family walked away from with only minor injuries.

That was the shock talking. For months after that horrific day I would constantly think these irrational thoughts, devising ways to reverse the irreversible. In my journal, I would write different sets of facts for April 3 and beyond. I call it Ravi fanfiction. In those stories, we get to go back to the way we were – a too busy but happy family running from work to hockey games, soccer practices, piano and voice lessons. In my favorite timelines, Ravi has worked up the nerve to ask out his crush. He’s still staying up too late playing piano and sleeping through his first-period class. And now he’s getting ready for prom, graduation and his last summer before starting a new chapter of his life in college.

I recently put a twist on my fanfiction. It was just before the Jewish holiday Purim in March. Ravi was a breakaway star in my synagogue’s musical produced every year called the Purim Spiel. This year’s script was based on Ravi’s Spotify playlist. It was an incredible way for our synagogue family to honor his memory.

 

Ravi and his younger brother Cary 2 years ago at Spiel

I knew it was going to be excruciating to sit through the Spiel for the first time in Ravi’s absence. At the same time, my younger son Cary, who Ravi had convinced to try out with him in the first place, had a leading role. Cary was even working with Ravi’s voice teacher. The day of the performance, I wrote to God asking for permission to borrow Ravi for the night. My ask was that he return to human form to watch the Spiel with us. I knew that wasn’t possible but I went on. I decided to press my luck and asked God to consider making it permanent so Ravi could just jump back into our reality.

But before I walked into the synagogue I had to walk it back. Magical thinking is soothing at first, but I realized it blocks my ability to connect with Ravi’s soul. So I stopped pretending. It was such an intensely powerful night. I was fully present to watch Cary nail his role and to experience how Ravi was in everyone’s hearts. The first line of the script was, “I miss Ravi Bloom.” They had me there.

Later that night I fell apart. Well, it was worth it.

So maybe I’ve outgrown my fanfiction stage. It’s not that I don’t wish every day that the facts were different – but that doesn’t work with my new goal. I want to be completely connected to Ravi’s soul. Before April 3, 2021, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to write a statement like that.

This year of loss has brought me closer to who I am or who I’m supposed to be. I’m still an extrovert but I’m more interested in turning inward now. My default position is still to be optimistic, but the blinders are off. In some ways I was not truly alive before this tragedy. I wasn’t connected to the pain that has always co-existed with joy. If I could go back to that coma state I would. But I can’t. Denial actually hurts more than facing the truth: That we are meant to feel pain, and that Ravi’s death is a reason to grieve deeply. I now know that my best chance of living on, helping my husband and boys with their own healing and connecting to Ravi’s soul, is to accept reality.

I know that to be true.

May 2022
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