| Shooting Stars |

Shooting Stars: Chapter 4

Uncle Dani, my dear Uncle Dani, is nowhere to be found. In his stead is a hardened confused, guy

I thought I had seen it all. That I had stared pain in the face. Or so I thought. How much more than mommy’s cancer could I handle? I was grossly mistaken.

It just evolved, without warning. The process was swift, at least superficially. It hasn’t been long… and now I barely recognize him. His gelled hair, jeans, empty eyes. Dani — a shadow of his former self.

He staggers in every night — or more like in the wee hours of the morning. Savta’s face is pinched. Sabba’s hair is snow white. There are shouts. There are battles. But never victory. Uncle Dani, my dear Uncle Dani, is nowhere to be found. In his stead is a hardened confused, guy. Why exactly, I still don’t know.

Visits to Saba and Savta are hard. No one wants to witness the next argument. The words that emerge from Uncle Dani’s mouth are angry. And Savta can do nothing but shrug. He accuses. He blames. And how I wish I could tell him that there is only one person to blame — himself.

Oh, Dani, where are you? We see your cool jeans and T-shirt. Beneath lies a heart beating with holy blood. And your eyes. All we see are confused, befuddled eyes.

And even though I reject your choices, the plunge you’ve taken, I feel for you. Despite your irrational thoughts and anger, we still care about you. Because that’s who we are as a family. We care. And that’s why it hurts so much. You exchanged your beautiful life for this? This is what you envisioned? A life of rowdiness and resentment?

Do you remember the beauty of a Shabbos table? The flickering candles, the heartfelt zemiros. Uncle Dani, with your beautiful voice you used to lead those zemiros. Dani, never forget that of Hashem’s precious Yidden, there are few. You were chosen to be one of them. And now you choose to look away.

From us. Dani, do you remember your nieces and nephews?  We used to get into those fun debates that we could only have with you. You used to tease us away. But we never minded. You had a heart of gold. Still do.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 789)

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