If I cry it means I’m guilty. If I cry it means I miss my daughter. I will want to be with her. And I can’t now. So I won’t cry. I won’t
m scared of this thing called Life.
My youth is a distant blur; memories hover in cloud formation, like sagging balloons.
I can’t look back. Not at the happier times and not at the sadder times. If I look at the happy times, I may feel nostalgia. I may feel longing, a pull for the joy of youth and for the freedom of innocence. I won’t look. I won’t turn around. I won’t think. I won’t feel.
I give birth to my oldest child. She’s a miracle of pink cheeks and feathered hair. Of perfect fingernails and velvet skin. I’m alone with her in the hospital. It’s late and quiet. I watch her sleeping. Eyes quivering under closed lids. I want to cry, but I don’t.
Tears sting behind tired eyes as feelings of gratitude and disbelief wash over me, as the weight of the new responsibility settles in. I swallow. I blink and look away from the enormity of the moment. The delight of new motherhood. The joy of a newborn girl. The fear of rising to the challenge. If I cry it means it’s real. If I cry I may never stop. So I hold her a little tighter and I don’t cry.
It’s just under two years later. Another miracle. Another daughter. Bald this time. The big sister visits. Toddler eyes and toddler hands cling to Mommy. But she can’t stay with me. She has to go back to her aunt. She cries when she leaves and I hold out a lollipop. It feels like my heart will break. The bigger one and the baby. I love them both.
A tear falls, unbidden, and I know there will be more. But I can’t. I won’t. If I cry I will feel my toddler’s pain. If I cry it means I’m guilty. If I cry it means I miss my daughter. I will want to be with her. And I can’t now. So I won’t cry. I won’t.
One day there’s a little boy. Impossible dark ringlets, translucent skin, and eyes a magical green. He’s three. Dimpled knuckles and angelic smile. The ringlets fall. His yarmulke is rich velvet. His curls were rich too. They’ve gone. He’s licking the honey. The alef-beis. Our Torah. He’s going to learn Torah.
I want to cover my eyes and bend over in intense tefillah. My heart is pleading, “Please, please, Hashem it’s a crazy world out there, and you gave me a precious boy to raise. Help me! Help him! May he always seek You, love You, and fear only You!”
But cameras are flashing and little boys are singing and it won’t do if I stand there crying. So I steel myself. I hold the words. I halt the flow. There are pictures to take. If I cry it means it’s so much bigger than just a haircut. If I cry it may seem I’m overdoing it. Overly emotional. So I don’t cry. I take pictures.
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 649)