When I woke up this morning and checked my WhatsApp messages, I was excited to see that I had something from Yehuda. He doesn’t write that often when he’s away from home (Yehuda, Yehuda, Yehuda…although to his credit, he is very much ‘in’ wherever he is with no cell phones, no social media, etc). He’s currently wrapping up 12th grade with his teachers and his class.
Of course, like the rest of the world, we weren’t sure that there would be any wrap up to the school year or closure for these kids. Therefore, we were thrilled when the school said that they were inviting the boys to come for Shabbat and then to enjoy 4 days of hiking and camping (with some type of graduation in the middle).
So, there I was this morning, clicking on his name. And there was a picture of him with the founder and beloved head of his school.
Four years of incredible growth…over.
I sat there with my phone and I cried.
They were tears of joy. Here was the little guy who I carried off of the Aliyah flight with his blankie and his fuzzy balls (he had an obsession with sucking his thumb while rubbing a cotton ball and he called them fuzzy balls!).
The boy who started daycare without a word of Hebrew, but who smiled everyday when I dropped him off and everyday when I picked him up. The boy who followed his older brother everywhere he went and has been followed by his younger brothers since their births.
The boy who was always harder on himself than anyone else could possibly have been; who has often chosen to express himself with beautiful prose in letters of thanks and love he would write out by hand; who is always surrounded by so many friends and joy and strength. The boy who simply grew up one day while we were running after his many younger brothers. The boy who can’t get enough of hiking and mayanot, of late night poike pots and tea by the fire, and of pancake breakfasts with his friends. (Yeah, he likes to eat.)
They were also tears of sorrow. Of things missed. Of the inability to be there with him at this glorious moment and to tell him how incredibly proud we are of him. Of the passage of time, the so very fast passage of time. And of the wonders of what this time of uncertainty will bring and of the many things that have been so different for these past three months.
And that was it.
Of course, that one moment in time, that chance to see him get his diploma, will not define him or us in any way. Perhaps, considering the person he has become, it was the most fitting graduation that could have been planned. A beautiful summer day, atop a mountain somewhere in Israel. A group of students and their mentors, and a future unfolding before their eyes.
May that future be as fulfilling, as glorious and special, as sweet and thoughtful, as these first 18 years have been with our son. And may he find more mountains to conquer everyday, and succeed in scaling them with as much ease as he has all of the obstacles, challenges and transitions that have come his way so far.