Layah Shagalow
4 min readDec 20, 2023

The sadness comes at night. When the darkness falls and the weariness sets in. When you don’t have the strength to fight it or even ignore it anymore. That’s when the sadness comes.

It feels like a suffocating weight bearing down, smothering me, slowing my movements and my breathing. It feels like tears caught in my chest, a knot in my throat, wondering how there can still be more left to cry. The grieving begins anew each night, piling grief on top of itself. Like a weighted blanket of sorrow. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it. The feelings must be felt. And I wonder if it is possible to drown in feelings.

My world is gone. The one I lived in just a few weeks ago is irreversibly altered. Almost as if what was before never existed. The illusion of safety and acceptance has been shattered. In its place, the harsh reality of ideological isolation, mindless hatred, physical danger, and this bottomless well of sadness.

I almost miss the anger. It was with me in the beginning. It fueled me, gave me the strength to push forward, to fight. But anger is a fire that flares quickly. It burns bright and then out. It is hard to sustain, because all it is, is a mask. Beneath it lies the truth. And the truth is the deepest pain, and overwhelming grief, and bitter disappointment, and this, this seemingly unending sadness.

I grieve so many losses it’s hard to call them all by name. There are too many names. Too many worlds. Not enough words. I cry for the ones I knew and for the ones I never will. I cry for a world that seems broken beyond repair. I cry for the hurt and betrayal that comes with learning how few people you actually have left. Even among the living. Among those you thought you called friend. I cry for the end of an era. For the end of an innocence. I cry because now I know the truth. And that truth cannot be un-known. I must live with this truth for the rest of my time.

I understand now, when the night falls and the sadness rises, why we say that when moshiach comes Hashem will wipe our tears away and we will not cry again. Because right now it feels like it will take an act of Gd to stop the tears. Those that are shed and those that remain caught inside. Like a damn that has burst and flows, seeming unable to cease. Who has the strength left to withstand the deluge?

I wonder how many more nights will be sad. Will this be a grief I carry so fresh for the rest of my life? Will I find myself gasping at the sharp pain of memory even as the years go by? Will the victory we will ultimately win do anything to soften the blow of the sacrifices it took to achieve? How do you celebrate survival, when it feels like the most basic thing to expect in life. And when it is the one thing the world wants to take from you. Will we forever be fighting for the right to survive? Will this war ever actually end? Has any war we have fought for our right to exist every truly ended? Or is my fate to live as a link in the chain of my heritage as the survivors of hundreds of thousands of ceasefires. Ultimately always broken by those who would happily see us dead.

The sadness comes at night. As the darkness overtakes the world. And it seems like it will never be light again.

But somewhere, deep down, hidden in almost inconceivable spark of faith, I know the light will return. It seems impossible, but as the dawn breaks through, so does the hope. Peaking out from the curtain of shadows, as the gentle rays of a promising sunrise appear. And while the darkness reminds me of my sadness, the sunrise reminds me that every day can be new. Every morning is a miracle. The sun rises again. The future is new, not bound to repeat the past. What we have lost will always be a hurt that we hold in hearts, but what we can build will always be a hope we can hold in our hands.

The hope comes as the dawn breaks. A whisper of light is enough to begin to dispel the echos of sadness. A glowing warmth, gentle at first, grows to an inferno of faith. A blaze as strong and bright as any to combat the darkness. The day is bright. The sadness of a broken past comes at night, but the hope of a better future rises at dawn. The cycle continues, and so do we. We endure, because history is not bound to repeat itself in any way other than in the everlasting truth that after the darkness will always come the light. When the darkness falls, know that the sun will rise again. Dawn is when the hope will come. This is my prayer. This is my hope. Hatikva.

I guess this is what Jews do when we feel lost in the depths of our despair. We write about hope.