Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Year Later...

My daughter is late.

I don't worry. Maybe she stopped at some stores on the way home. Maybe she's walking with friends and lost track of time. Maybe she stayed at school late.'s getting later. And she's still not home. It's a short Friday afternoon. She usually comes straight home. I'm still not worried. Not really. But there is that tiny, familiar fear inside me. What if she meant to come straight home, but something happened? What if she's not okay? What if she never even got to school?? My chest feels tight. I imagine the worst.

I call a few friends. They don't know where she is. It's really late now, and I'm worried.

By the time she walks into the house, I am frantic. She doesn't seem to understand why. I'm not sure I understand it, either. I could have thought of a hundred plausible explanations for her lateness. I did. But I also thought of a hundred frightening possibilities.

Because, for some people, those things really happened.

This week marks the first yahrtzeit of Leiby Kletzky.

I spent most of last summer driving my very independent little boy to and from camp. He would not be walking himself anymore. It was too dangerous. There were monsters waiting to prey on little boys who walked home alone. No monster was going to get my little boy. I would make sure of that.

Life goes on. And eventually, I allowed him to walk himself. I needed to let my little boy grow up. It was time.

But something changed for me. I am no longer the same calm, easygoing mother I once was. I worry now. When my little boy walks home himself, I worry. When my kids go swimming, I worry. When they go on school trips, I worry.

Bad things happen. I know that now. Not somewhere out there, to someone I don't know and don't relate to. Right here, to someone in the same camp as my little boy, walking the same route home. And it scares me.

May we soon merit the fulfillment of the prophecy: "I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrow"

May Leiby's neshama have an aliya.


  1. I’m sure all mothers worry about their children. But this is different. It’s worrying brought to a whole new level…fearing the worst because it happened to someone so close to home. I don’t know if there are any words that can offer proper comfort or to calm those nerves. These are the most normal emotions for any mother after that frightening story.

    As long as it doesn’t go too far, as long as we let our children do the regular things they need to do, at the right age and stage of their lives, as long as we don’t become too overprotective and take steps to take it too far, it’s okay. I can’t stop my son from climbing to the highest and scariest places even though it worries me that he will get bumps and bruises (and he’s gotten them plenty!). I can try to protect him, but there’s a limit. We need to let our children do what’s right for them at whatever stage they’re at…and let our hearts do the worrying…cuz that’s what moms are for :-).

    May the next three weeks pass by without another crazy, heart wrenching story. I think there have been enough of those already. May we hear good news, regular news, happy news and may all our children stay safe.

    (I'm the first to comment! How many points do I get for that one? :) )

    1. Honestly, I probably would be just like you. I tend to get really frantic and create horrible stories in my head when people, even adults, show up late and are unreachable. I was always like that, even before the Leiby story, so this just exacerbated it in all worriers like us. I commend you, though, for not letting your fear get in the way of normal childhood behavior and fun.

      And amen to Devorah's bracha. Every summer I hope and pray that this summer should be the one that passes without incident. I hope that this summer will finally be the one that my prayers get answered.

  2. P.S. I don't know why my browser only lets me reply to another comment, and not write one on its own. My previous comment was general, not specifically a response to Devorah.

  3. My mother always worried. She was always a worrier. I always make sure to tell her where I am to save her nerves.

    She worried when she was in the bungalow colony, and haunted my brother's steps, while other mothers let their three year olds wander.

    Lightning doesn't strike twice. Leiby was a terrible tragedy, but nobody did anything wrong. The nutjob who did it is locked up.

    There are other things that can chas v'shalom happen, and we can't always outsmart them.

  4. SIR...

    And it doesn't let me reply to a specific comment. I can only add a comment, so I'm going to have to respond like this. But if anyone can help me figure out what I'm doing wrong, I'd very much appreciate it!


    That's the trick - to allow them to do all the normal kid things even though you worry. It's not easy!


    I'm not a worrier by nature. I became somewhat of a worrier after I had kids. And then became much, much worse in the past year.


    No, we can't. We're not in control. And we have to learn to let go and let Hashem take over.

  5. I so hear you here. I felt like this after 9/11, and still feel like something changed that will never change back. I was in the city almost every day that year, and I was scared with every step. I had a simcha at Terrace on the Park and all I could do was stare out the windows so I'd see the plane coming.

    I credit you for eventually allowing him to walk- it must be so hard, as you walk and drive by the same spots.

    I think that the emunah piece is the hardest part. As moms, we want to take care of it all and manage it all. The line between hishtadlus and relying on Hashem is so hard to see.

    I second the brachah that we make it through these months unscathed. And may simchas be right here, and just around the corner.

  6. Staying Afloat...

    Right. 9/11 was like that, too.
    And're right. I think we just need to let kids do whatever is normal and age appropriate and safe, whether we worry or not, and then rely on Hashem. Easier said than done, though.

  7. In your head, you say "it was one crazy person." but in your heart...who can control your heart, when it comes to those you love?

  8. OOOh, I feel like crying. I've got the tingles shivering up my spine. No, I cna't protect my kids. What a tough reality to come to terms with. My heart walking outside my body... and I have to let go...