Thursday, 8 August 2013

Parting Words

Rinat Tsafrir-Halperin 1965-2013
When I think of Rinat it immediately conjures up images of Mr Bean, of Cadbury's chocolate and of floor-mopping with ABBA songs in the background. I think of one-dollar shops selling all sorts of knickknacks and of a French spoken using verbs in the present tense only.

I recall nick-names and epithets she used to call me by: kalimero, Orinoco, beloved. An image of an omelet with ketchup springs to mind; her favourite meal.

What else comes up when I think of Rinat? I recall meetings in Europe – especially our joint trip to Berlin, two years ago. I also remember a shopping expedition which she put me and my father through, in Primark, London – her much-loved shopping venue. I recall her devotion to my mother during many years, but most notably during my mother's final years. And later on, her care for others; a care that knew no bounds. She offered help to friends selflessly, willingly and generously. I see in front of me an endless stream of emails with photographs attached: the boys at home, the boys at school, in a field of tulips, in the army…a mother's pride. I remember a photo she sent me recently, standing next to a very tall Dutch man which dwarfed her; she added a caustic comment. Rinat knew how to laugh at herself.

But I also remember, when thinking of Rinat, visits to Hadassa Hospital, to the eating disorder unit; and her illness. The anorexia which seeped its way into her soul and chipped away and destroyed all things good.

I recall excuses, subterfuges, and illogical habits of mind – all part of her illness. From more recent times I remember our helplessness as Rinat, whom we all loved dearly and deeply, transformed in front of our eyes into a shadow of herself. A broken vessel. We carried – each in his own way – a deep frustration and terrible foreboding in light of her deteriorating health. We all hoped that our Rinat will preserve. I am reminded of Natan Alterman's poem, the lyrics of which were like a prayer to me in the last few years.

Preserve your soul, your strength preserve, preserve your soul
preserve your life, your wisdom, preserve your life.
Preserve your tired soul, preserve your soul
preserve your life, your wisdom,
preserve your life, your hair,
preserve your skin, preserve your beauty, preserve your kind heart,
hold it gently with your hands.

I feel distressed beyond words that we were unable to preserve Rinat, in spite of our enormous love for her – a love that shall never end. Rini-Pini, when I remember you, I see our family and I see you, always attempting to smooth the edges, to bridge between the end-points, to encourage and support. I see our childhood, first in Jerusalem, then in London and finally in Ra'anana.

It is hard for me; hard for me to be here, once more, in Shefayim, in the place where Gil is buried; in the place where mum is buried. It is hard for me to fathom that you will never call again in the middle of the night in Sydney to ask for a translation of a letter into French 'mega urgent' or edit a text you needed to write - also very urgent. I cannot comprehend that we will never laugh again; that I won't hear your ironic humour ever again. That you are no more. It is devastating.

To your children, my nephews, I want to say how much I love you; I am and will continue to be your uncle and part of your life. To Uri I want to say how grateful I am to you for loving my sister, also – and especially – during these last few years. Rini-Pini, rest in peace next to Gil and mum. With love, Ori.


Jeff said...

A beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss Ori.


Anonymous said...

Ori - you make it possible for me and for others to get to know your sister - even without actually knowing her. And you make me want to cry with you.
A heartbreaking tribute!


Orlop =) said...

I am truly sorry for your loss. I spent a few wks with Rinat where she trained me for my work and recently was in touch via facebook. I'm totally shocked.

Anonymous said...

Ori you won't remember me but I was very close to Rinat when we were 11 or 12 years old at JFS in London and I remember sleepovers at your flat on the Finchley Road. You were the cute one! I heard today about Rinat and although we lost touch years ago I am feeling so very sad. She was such a sweet and funny child and we used to laugh at the stupidest things together. I too remember her love of Mr Bean and she used to try to teach me to do cartwheels. I am going to look for old photos of us together. I was so very fond of her. Thinking of you. Sarah Mendel.