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The Girl That Was: Chapter 1 

           I thought of Shani walking down to her chuppah with two loving parents at her side, and the tears came




he sun was barely up but there was no way I was staying in bed for another minute. As it was, I hardly slept all night. I quietly made my way downstairs to relish the quiet before the onslaught of the day.

My daughter, my oldest child Shani, named for my mother, would be getting married today.

I burrowed my feet into my soft slippers and hugged my robe tightly around me as I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table. I just couldn’t believe it. It was amazing how 20 years had gone by in the blink of an eye. My little girl, a kallah, walking down to the chuppah — it seemed surreal. It was only yesterday that I walked down to my own chuppah.

But how grateful I am for the circumstances that will be surrounding my daughter on this day, so different from my own wedding day.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t go there. But it was futile to keep the memories away. If I don’t indulge for a few moments, the memories will spend the day trying to catch my attention.

I got up to make myself my second cup of coffee just as my husband made his way downstairs. He looked at me with serious eyes and whispered, “I just can’t believe that we are old enough to be marrying off a child. I clearly remember the first time I picked up our tiny princess, only five pounds and seven ounces.”

I thought of Shani walking down to her chuppah with two loving parents at her side, and the tears came. My heart constricted as I thought of how lucky she was to be brought up in a warm and stable home and I was overcome with gratitude for the wonderful man that I am lucky to call my husband. As he walked out the door to Shacharis, and I sat there clutching my hot coffee, the memories engulfed me. Oblivious to the clock that informed me that it wouldn’t be too long until the little ones woke up, I sat lost in thought.

I was back in eighth grade.


Chapter 1

IT was just the way my life was. I was only five years old when my parents divorced and the only life I knew was the life of growing up in a single parent home.

I know that it comes with a stigma, but I really don’t understand why. I’m really not any less of a person just because my parents are divorced. But who am I to try to change the world?

But there is one thing that I can’t deny: I did feel abandoned by my father. My father has almost nothing to do with me, his only daughter. Here and there he gives me a call, but it doesn’t seem like I occupy too much space in his life. And that hurts.

As the youngest of five children, I don’t have memories of a father who was a regular father, though my older brothers all do. They remember how Totty made Kiddush, and how his eyes would shine as they answered parshah questions. They remember how Totty would spontaneously decide to take the family out for a fun barbecue, ending off with a trip for extra-large Slurpees. They have memories. Sometimes my brothers will sit around together talking and laughing about the good ol’ days. And I just listen. I try to imagine a home with a father. A man who walks through the door each night and asks me about my day. I try to imagine eating Shabbos meals at home with a father at the head of the table.

I try to imagine that man being my father, but I can’t picture it.

Inevitably the memories turn to the time that our father started changing.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 918)

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