This is a picture of my parents at Jamie’s Bar Mitzvah. Jamie is my second cousin once removed. I have seen him three times in my life. But he and his father, my mother’s first cousin, had special relationships with Mom. I get that. That Bar Mitzvah was probably a little over 30 years ago. Don’t Mom and Dad look great?
My son will be called to Torah as a Bar Mitzvah in June. My mother won’t be there in body. My dad will be there mostly in body only.
The only child of our Mom’s and Dad’s grandchildren to be called to Torah. And they should be kvelling (filled with pride), standing next to him, making the blessings before he reads from Torah.
I robbed my mother of this moment by having him so late in my life. Fate robbed me by taking Mom to her grave too early and by taking Dad’s mind from him.
My son’s Bar Mitzvah will be a joyous day but it will be incomplete. Because Mom and Dad will not be there — in the ways I imagined they would be — and I will miss what I imagine as their inevitable tears of joy and pride.
But I know that Dad will labor up the steps to the Bimah, with help. And he will say the blessings, from memory instilled long ago. And he will be present, infused by Mom’s spirit hovering over him, as he stands next to his grandson as his grandson reads from Torah.
And, in my mind’s eye, I will see Mom and Dad as they are in the picture. Vibrant and proud.
And I will cry tears of joy and loss.