Our boy Ari started kindergarten this week. He was scared, as was I. It's a big deal, this kindergarten business. We went to the meet and greet and I was okay. I said hello to other parents, held Ari's hand, watched him with awe and pride as he negotiated this brand new terrain. The new teacher; the new class without any of his former classmates. The families. The dads. I held my breath for him, but he was okay. More than okay. And so was I. Or so I thought.
I walked him to school on the first day. I hugged him at the door. His teacher is lovely and kind and warm – all of the things you wish your child's kindergarten teacher to be. She took his hand and led him in. I turned to go. To walk home alone. And then they came. Tears streaming down my face. To miss someone so much in one moment – I've never experienced that kind of gut wrenching sorrow before.
Anyone walking by me as I made my way blindly home would probably have thought I was just an overwrought mom, worried about her son. And that is true. But I wanted to scream, my husband died! He died! I'm all by myself! I'm raising two boys by myself! This is horrible! I miss him so much, bring him back, please. Please!!! But I did not scream. Instead, I muttered to myself, shaking my head through the tears.
Oh, I'm so sad thinking of all the things Ronen is going to miss. And this is just the first of so many firsts. Kindergarten, puberty, bar mitzvahs, high school, college…the list goes on and on. Where there were four, there are now three. And why? How?
I cried and I cried. And I walked in the door to my dear friend Lauren, who flew all the way from New Jersey to be with me this week, who left her own patient family behind to help me care for mine. I love her so much. I am so grateful for all of these wonderful people I am so lucky to call friends. My friend Anat lent me her babysitter to watch Lev so I could just be in the sadness that day. My gratitude is infinite. But all day, my heart was cracked in two.
Walking to pick Ari up later, I trailed behind a couple. The husband turned around to ask me how my day was, we introduced ourselves. They asked how the morning went. Because there is no filter any more, because grief has obliterated my small talk skills, I blurted out the truth. Ari's dad died suddenly this summer. This morning was horrible. They were kind. It felt good, to not pretend. I just can't. Ronen would be glad, that I wasn't trying to. He detested bullshit.
And then I saw Ari and he ran to me and I felt his small, warm hand in mine and he was so happy. Ema, I have a secret, he told me. I like
it. His happiness: the super glue to my broken heart. For a good long moment, at least.