The Rabbi’s Daughter

“So I watched this thing…it’s going around…”

They are looking at me, waiting, and I realize it is too late.  I will say it.

“It’s called The Rabbi’s Daughter…”

My father’s eyes raise and I almost swallow the words, even though I know I can’t.

“It reminded me of you…of us.”

And then I am describing the scene, the one where the girl is baring her soul to her father, showing her a piece of him that is so raw and so full of confusion…the part where they watch her creation float across the screen…the image of him walking…her circling him in his shadow, at the end of his shadow…always, always in his shadow…and then he smiles and reaches for a book…and her face shows sorrow and acceptance…as he finds a quote…intellectualizing her experience…explaining it…his way…even though it is hers…

And my father…my teacher…my very own Rabbi…is nodding his head in a way that shows me he knows…very well…why I am telling him this…and he is sort of pulling away…wanting to leave the conversation…

But…

He stays.

We wrap it up easily.  He kids a bit about how I tried to smooth my choice of topic over with a silly comment about his lack of emotional capacity…just so I wouldn’t be disappointed…and in very few words he calls my bluff.

And then the goodbye is easy, comfortable…and I am so incredibly in awe of him…of them…the only two people in my life who were willing…eager…to change…just so that we could hold a conversation where things that aren’t so nice to hear…can be said, accepted…and embraced.

How I Say I Love You

“What – you love each other?” she asks, catching us in an easy embrace.

We share a smile as I lift my head off your chest and answer her with a slight nod.

“Ok” is the only thing she cares to say as she scampers off with her brother, leaving us relaxing comfortably together in the Sukkah.

But I’m not able to casually stroll on as the weight of those words reverberate through my ears, ringing memory bells in a glorious symphony of cherished emotions.

And so I write as my heart fills with the old feelings of new love and my soul wraps the fragile little me up and gifts her to you as a symbol of the kind of trust only you can understand.

The memories…the things I try to talk about all the time…to keep at the forefront…they are not in the past as we live out our days.  They are here, with me, in my now with you…because they keep me from getting lost in the safety of secured love and forgetting what you mean to me.

Remember…we were on the swing, the one we used to go to when we wanted to run away from everyone…and I stroked your hair and realized I loved you.  So I said it.  I think I love you.  But the wind took my whisper and blew it away from your ears and you turned to me and asked me what time it was.

Remember…when you gave me your necklace and promised you would be back…and I loved you so much that I wanted to get down on one knee and propose to you, and beg you to take me with you…but I didn’t know how to do that or how to say that so I said I think I’m falling in love with you.

Remember….when you called and I was crying and needed you…and I loved you so much I wanted to scream out how I couldn’t live without you but the words got lost somewhere from my head to my mouth and I said It would be nice not to have to cry to you over the phone.

Remember…when it got too much for me to handle and I needed you to know and I couldn’t be afraid anymore to tell you how I felt because if you didn’t love me there was no use living anyway and if you did love me I would be able to start living again…so I sent you a three page e-mail explaining how hard it is for me to trust people and all the different levels of trust and then at the end wrote I can say I love you because I trust you.

I cried all that day because I sent that off and I hadn’t even written the words.  I had only written about the words…and explained the words…but I thought maybe you still wouldn’t know.

And remember…you called…and you said I love you too…and I…have never…been…the same.

Happy birthday my love, my life, my darling.

I love you.

Loving You

Come quick!

My husband’s shout propels me off my seat and out on the balcony.  The flock of White Storks are back.  They are flying overhead in a haphazard pattern, lazily flapping their massive wings as they circle their way over our heads and past the mountains.

I am leaning against the gate, my head raised, my toes lifting me up slightly so I can see a bit more, my arms extending towards the wonder that just flew by and the arm of my husband wrapped around my waist.

I exhale as the last straggler disappears from view.

We go inside.  I make a small remark about wanting to go to the Hula Valley to see the birds migrating before the season is over when I notice that my husband’s face is splitting with a beaming smile and a strange look in his eyes.

I love you.

I burst into peals of laughter as he says it over and over.

It’s been more than seven years since the first time he said he loved me.

He said he loved me even though I rolled my eyes when he pointed out a beautiful flower.

He said he loved me even though I told him zoos gave me a headache and that I had no interest in seeing fish swim around in an aquarium.

He said he loved me even though I told him that he could hike all he wanted without me.

He said he loved me even though I smirked as he caught a cockroach and freed it outside.

He said he loved me even though I made a face when he started talking about science.

He said he loved me even though I insisted that knowing how to tell birds apart was a weird and awkward bit of knowledge, especially for a kid growing up in Brooklyn.

Seven years of loving me without needing me to take an interest in what he thought interesting.

Seven years of smelling the flowers as I waited impatiently.

Seven years of appreciating the world around me while I took little notice.

Seven years of loving someone with an incredibly different disposition.

Until…suddenly…here I am…getting excited about a flock of birds on their way home from their winter retreat…looking up the differences between Great White Pelicans and White Storks…and laughing hysterically with someone who doesn’t quite know how he could change a person so much…just by loving them.

Dedicated to The Ones I Love

We met when I was barely eighteen.

I kept a low profile, my face hidden behind unkempt hair encased in the hooded sweatshirt I wore defensively.

But I listened to the two of you talk and I couldn’t contain myself.

You spoke my language, peppered with a healthy dose of vulgarity and infused with the strangest spice of real emotion.

I had to join.

Somehow, in my eagerness to be heard, I couldn’t stop talking.

I told you everything.  You heard it all and loved me.

Really, really loved me.

Accepted me.

The first ones to see all of me and appreciate it.

The only ones to let me ride it out without judgement.

In time, I saw you as you saw me.

Perfectly human.

And I began to love you.

Love can never be exactly like we want it to be…

I could be satisfied knowing you love me…

And there’s one thing I want you to do especially for me…

And it’s something that everybody needs…

While I’m far away…

Whisper a prayer for me…

Because it’s hard for me…

And the darkest hour is just before dawn….

….and tell all the stars above

…this is dedicated to the ones I love…

I miss you.

Can we be a family again?

Mother of Two

Describe yourself, they say.

Make them understand who you are.  Use words that paint a picture.  Dig deep inside and express your qualities with letters and spaces.  Get them to understand you.

So, I try.  I close my eyes and I dig and dig and dig.

In the process, I throw aside the obvious and the mundane.

My age, that’s a given.  No one can gather anything from that.

My looks are ever changing.  There is no defining feature that will tell you who I am besides my eyes, and they are hidden behind unremarkable frames.

My character leaves much to be desired.  I do not want to place myself in the box it builds around me.

My talents are gifts I do not use for the right reasons.

I keep digging.

My hands get dirty as the shovel of my mind tosses words, piling them up around me.

Suddenly, I hit something hard.

The words come crashing through in an avalanche of emotions that hit me, leaving me breathlessly stunned.

Mother of two.

The box is opened and the descriptive words begin to flow, picking up speed with every letter.

My daughter is a gorgeous, vivacious three-year old with an active imagination.  She loves to dance, is extremely musical and her little feet are constantly tapping out a beat.  She hums while she eats, bathes and sits on the toilet.  When she colors, she slants her head in the opposite direction of the paper.  She bites her lip when she’s concentrating.  She stands up and shouts a sincere thank you to Hashem when she prepares to eat.  She adores pretty things and always picks flowers for the people she loves.  She tells me when she’s happy or sad and is quick to warn others of what is dangerous, as well as reassure me when she’s safe.  She has beautiful, long lashes framing big eyes that never seem to close, even while she’s asleep.  She talks in her sleep in two languages and says the most intuitive things when awake.  She is a sought after friend and tends to play the caregiver in her relationships.  She is a superb actor, fiercely independent and a staunch advocate for the less fortunate.  She loves animals, is an avid bug-watcher and has an affinity for rhinoceroses.  She skips when she walks to the park and trudges home despondently when playtime is over.  She shuts down when faced with a harsh tone and thrives on anything gentle; gentle touch, gentle sound and gentle people.  Her disposition is like her name, strong and fierce mixed with soft and pure.  She processes information quickly and thirsts for knowledge.  She is a marvelous being who provides me with endless amounts of joy and gratitude.

My son is but a babe.  He is soft, sweet and wondrous.  In the two months since his birth he has transformed an entire family unit.  He constantly kicks his legs and throws his arms about, itching to run.  He does not complain and is inherently patient.  He makes sweet noises while he eats.  He smiles wide and laughs silently at the angels dancing over my shoulders.  His eyes are big, round and hungry as he takes in the world around him.  He is quickly distracted and notices everything.  Music sooths him and he is easily appeased.  He is both simply unassuming and intrinsically complex.  He is adoring and wants nothing more than to feel the love he evokes in me wrap around him in a cocoon of warmth and security.

And I, I am their mother.