I’ve been thinking a lot about dying lately. Every day that someone my age passes away from the coronavirus who was in otherwise perfect health, I think: That could be me. And even though mid-40s is not young, I still hear that whisper of a voice within me whispering: I haven’t had a chance to live. I still have so many regrets. So many things I want to do, but never had the courage to try. So many people I want to forgive but can’t. So many times I want to say I love you but keep it inside.

An article on patients suffering from Covid-19 who FaceTime or call their families in their last moments reported that this is what they say: I forgive you. Do you forgive me? I love you. I miss you. Good bye.

And I think about those words for a while after I read them. And then I push them far away from my thoughts. Because the thought of dying alone and saying good bye to my family on a phone is just too painful. And thoughts of death and sickness on top of running a housebound family of seven right now is more than I can handle.

I’ve been thinking a lot about dying lately, but I stop myself because I want to live.

Today I need to bring my children into their school to collect the last of their book supplies and textbooks. There is a schedule for each parent to enter with a mask and gloves. As I prepare the bags to collect the last remnants of hope that my children will be able to attend school for the rest of the year, I think of a Holocaust survivor who used to sit on a bench and watch the dozens of Jewish children boarding their school bus each morning. You see, he whispered each day, there is still hope.

And now I am packing up the last shred of my children’s Jewish education in plastic bags, and I know that I cannot possibly teach them the way their rabbis taught them each day. I have an Ivy League education, but I cannot reach them the way their teachers reached them. I cannot teach them the depth of life that resides within us when I am so desperately struggling just to make it through the day. And though they see their teachers now on video, there is a screen between them.

There is a screen now everywhere. Between reality and illusion. Between who we thought we were and who we are becoming. Between the world I thought I was bringing my children into and the world we are inhabiting.

But I don’t cry as I pile books and pencils and erasers into the bags. I stop myself from crying because my son is beside me wistfully looking at his desk with a mask on his little face and oversized plastic gloves on his hands. I stop myself from crying because I want to live.

We light a candle on Yom HaShoah, and I think about the six million Jews who lived through horrors that I cannot fathom. I think about seeing my children now every moment of the day and how much the Jews in the camps would have given to have that chance just for one day. We rise at 3AM so we can hear the siren echo throughout Israel. We stand in our living room in Connecticut, young children bleary with sleep and a parent finally allowing herself to cry. Not just for the memory of the six million Jews that we lost but for the lives that they lived. For the hope that they had despite the darkness that enveloped them. For the faith in life that embraced them until the very end. I cry only in the night, at 3AM, because no one can hear me, and because I want to live.

In a week from now we will light another candle for the soldiers that have fallen defending our people and for all those we have lost in the countless terrorist attacks. We will rise again in the middle of the night to hear the siren and to stand with the thousands of people on their balconies and in their homes, mourning the loss of lives cut short. Of families torn apart. Of good byes not said. Of quiet heroism no one ever hears.

I will stand in a corner of my living room once again and I will cry, in a place where only He can hear me say: I remember. I mourn. I cry. I don’t know how to honor the lives of those who gave everything so that we can live. I don’t know how to forgive or be forgiven. I don’t know how to say I love you and I miss you to my parents without crying. I don’t know how to pack up my children’s school supplies and still teach them to reach out for You when they don’t know where to turn. But I remember. I remember what You taught me when I was lost in the darkness. I remember how You showed me the way out of my own dead ends.

And though lately I have been thinking a lot about dying, I have also been thinking a lot about how to live. Because it’s not just that I want to live. I want to know how to live. I watch my sons take their supplies and walk towards the car. I watch them set up their books on the desks in their rooms and go on despite the chaos around them. I watch them live, and I remember. I remember how to ask for forgiveness and be forgiven. I remember how to say I love you and be loved. I remember how to say good bye to the world we inhabited yesterday and step into the new one that we all face today.

When the sirens echo through our hearts, we all remember those who died so that we could live. And though lately I have been thinking about dying, more than anything, I know they would want me to live.