Wednesday, June 29, 2011

If Only

I met her for the first time shortly after I got married. She was old - late eighties or early nineties - and she suffered from senility. But she had a wonderful sense of humor and she was smart, and I liked her a lot.

She'd ask me my name every time I saw her, as though we were being introduced for the first time. And she'd make the same comment and give me the same compliment every time. She seemed so happy when I had my first child. She asked me his name and how much he weighed. She held him and rocked him and sang to him. And then she asked me his name again, and how much he weighed. And then again a few minutes later.

She couldn't remember what happened yesterday. But she remembered what happened seventy years ago.

I heard about Yankel almost as soon as I met her. And every time I visited her. It was just bits and pieces each time and it was hard to make out the complete story. Yankel was the man she could have - or should have - married. I don't know why she didn't. I don't know if she spent her life regretting her decision. Her family seemed embarrassed by it and were reluctant to fill in the details. But I was drawn to the romance  and so saddened by the longing in her voice.

She married someone else - the person she'd ultimately spend the next seventy years with. They raised a large family, and, at least from her family's point of view, she had a good and happy life.

But at the end of her life, she never forgot Yankel.

Years later, I remember this woman. And I remember Yankel. And what saddens me most is the she lived the last years of her life regretting what could have been.

Sometimes I find myself doing the same thing. I look back at my life - at things that happened, things I've been through - and I wish I could relive it. I wish I could go back and do things differently. I wish I knew then what I know today. I could have saved myself so much much pain.

But I don't want to be a ninety year old woman, looking back at my life with regrets.

I couldn't have done things differently. Everything happened the way it was meant to. The decisions I made and all that I've been through contributed to the person I became. My life experience is a part of me. A part of who I am.

And I don't regret that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Moonlight is gone. And my heart is aching.

I'm not a big fan of animals. I can tolerate them - at the zoo or on a leash, but I don't find them cute or cuddly. My kids always knew not to bring home so much as a goldfish, and other than some passing phases, they mostly accepted that and inherited my distrust of anything on four legs.

Well...except for my little boy. He plays by different rules. And he loves animals.

A couple of months ago, he brought home a goldfish. I went on my well rehearsed rant about how this is a people house, and only humans live here...and how we don't have the right equipment or the know-how and it'll die and then what are we going to do with it.

And then I let it stay - to my other kids' surprise and my little boy's delight.

It lived for about a week. And when it died, I felt sad. For my little boy, mostly. But also for the loss of something that became a part of my home.

Two weeks later, I was introduced to Moonlight. My little boy was walking home from school, when he passed a grocery. Apparently, a mama cat living in the store, had some kitties, and the grocer was giving them away. My little boy happily carried one home, never stopping to wonder about what his mother might think.

While I am somewhat prepared to deal with the occasional carnival goldfish, nothing in my parenting experience prepared me for this.

My little boy cried and pleaded.

"I need to take care of her." He looked up at me through tear filled eyes. "She doesn't have a mother!"

I watched my little boy as he held her protectively against him, and I let her stay.

We settled her comfortably in the back yard, in a house my little boy built with his friends. He spent every spare minute out there with Moonlight, feeding her, holding her, playing with her, and I privately hoped she'd wander off one day soon and join some family of stray cats somewhere.

I'm not sure how or when it happened, but at some point, Moonlight began to occupy some space in my heart and mind. Just a tiny space, at first. I'd drive down the block at night, and worry about her wandering into the street and getting hurt. I'd hear a kitten crying, and wonder if it's Moonlight, and hope she's okay. I'd see her curled up in the driveway, under the wheels of a car, and I'd call my little boy to come and put her somewhere safe.

The worry was for Moonlight, too, but it was mostly for my little boy. He loved his kitten. And I loved how it brought out a sweet, gentle, nurturing side of him.

Moonlight lived in our yard for about a month. And then she disappeared.

We combed the neighborhood, looking for her. I knocked on doors. I talked to anyone who might have some information. We suspect that the crazy cat lady at the corner took her. But there's no way to verify it, and it's unlikely that she'd return her.

So Moonlight is gone now. And my little boy is heartbroken.

A tiny part of me is relieved. But most of me is mourning along with my little boy. I don't like cats, but I love my little boy. And his heart is broken.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bursting With Pride

My anonymity is very important to me, and I go to great lengths to protect it. My real life friends do not know I have a blog, and my blog friends know me only as Mystery Woman.

So when something significant happens in my life, something that may give some clues to my identity, I won't share it here, or I'll wait some time before I do.

But...I'm bursting.

And I can trust you, O Internet, not to make any connections between the real me and the blogger me, right?

So...please allow me to share a personal moment here.

My little girl is valedictorian!

I am so very proud.

It is an acknowledgment of her efforts and accomplishments, her middos and her maturity, and a recognition of the sweet, good-hearted human being she is.

And it's just another reminder of how my life as a mother is an answered prayer...a dream come true, and one of the greatest pleasures that exists.

This is what it must feel like to kvell.

I am blessed.