School started in our Taubman ECC this week! I loved watching the little kids come in to the building with their mothers and fathers. Most of the kids are returning, and they come with great joy – some actually bursting out of their parents arms to reunite with “old” friends and revisit old teachers. But some of the kids are here for the first time.
I saw a two-year-old being brought to a classroom by his mother. He was beautiful – wide eyed and with a look of great anticipation. His teacher was waiting with open arms and an open heart. And then, all of a sudden, he was struck with the realization that Mommy was leaving him in this big building, with unknown people and an uncertain future. And he screamed in terror! Tears rolled down his face as his lovely mother was trying to reconcile him with this new reality. I walked by later in the day and saw that he was calm and looked happy. But I felt his pain deeply earlier in the day. New beginnings can be so hard.
How well I remember my first day of school. I didn’t want to go. And I remember vividly the first days of school for my children. Each of them responded differently, but for them – and undoubtedly their mother and I – those were days of mixed emotions. We want our kids to move on to the next level, the next venture, the next place where they will receive life’s lessons and grow and experience new things. But each of these steps forward represents leaving a place that was.
Next weekend you won’t get a column from me, nor will I be in shul. A week from Sunday my daughter, Gabrielle, will be married to Seth Lind in Wisconsin. As I think about speaking to the couple under their chuppah I get choked up. Gabrielle will be a bride! Gabrielle will be a wife! And God willing, one day, she and Seth will be parents! Another life cycle event to be celebrated – another transition, a new day, new opportunities, new lessons to be learned, new experiences to be shared, and new love to feel. And, as I think about her wedding, I go back and think about her earliest days: the beautiful baby, the toddler, the young girl beginning school, the serious student that she was (and is!) and everything about my beautiful, sensitive, wonderful daughter!
The little boy going to school for the first time and the grown woman getting married can only live life in one direction. And that is forward. Hopefully the love he received at home and will continue to receive gives him the inner confidence he needs to go on to this year and future years. One day, he may be famous!
And Gabrielle? She has learned life’s lessons well and will be a wonderful wife, as Seth will be a wonderful husband, and they will move forward into their future as a couple and God willing, one day, a family.
May they all be blessed.
I will see you in shul this weekend!
This column is dedicated to the memory of Rubin Shafran z”l