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The Girl That Was: Chapter 15   

I wanted her to always have everything so good and so perfect. I knew it wasn’t realistic


A year later I held my first baby, a beautiful, delicate little girl. Of course, I named her Shani after my mother.

Shani was a pure joy to raise. She was charming and obedient. She was helpful at home, and got good grades. She had a sparkle in her eyes and a bounce in her step.

My other children followed in quick succession. Each one was a treasure. Each one brought us so much joy. But Shani… well, she was my oldest, and she carried my mother’s name. And that was always how I would introduce her. “This is Shani, named after my mother.”

My husband Cheski would tease me that I definitely played favorites. I would laugh and deny the accusation. But I knew that he might be right.

It’s hard to explain the feeling or gratitude and relief that I had when she made it through tenth grade and she still had a mother. Perhaps it was a bit morbid. But I couldn’t help but remember what I went through each year of my own childhood as she went through hers. I was so happy to see her go through school without the trials that I had. And all I wanted was for her to continue to sail through life.

I wanted her to always have everything so good and so perfect. I knew it wasn’t realistic. The most I could have hoped for was that Chesky and I give her the tools that would help her get through the ups and downs that life brings.

Before I knew it, she was home from seminary. Shani in shidduchim?! Help! That sounded crazy.

Should we start right away? I didn’t want her to have the pain of being an older single like I had. But was she ready? Mrs. Schonfeld’s words echoed in my head: It isn’t up to us. We do our hishtadlus, but it’s up to Hashem.

Before I knew it, the phone call came. We looked into the boy, and everything checked out. She came home glowing from her dates and then she was a kallah.

My precious baby was getting married. It was unbelievable.


Shortly after her engagement, her chassan presented her with a beautiful diamond ring. She held up her finger and laughed with so much happiness as she showed it to me. And then she said, “Ma, I know that this is crazy. But I almost feel like giving it back to him. As much as I love it, he is my real diamond. I don’t need this one.” I laughed with her and told her not to be so crazy, because even if she didn’t want her kallah jewelry now, she would want it one day.

But she was right. Her chassan was a gem.


I heard the pattering  of little feet. I looked up. There were my younger children. Heads full of messy hair, a twinkle in their eyes and hands holding blankets and stuffed animals that go wherever they go. Today was the wedding!

I knew my quiet time is over. I grabbed a tissue one more time as the last tears slipped down my cheeks. I hurriedly whispered a prayer, “Please, Mommy, go to the Kisei Hakavod. Daven for Shani that she should have shalom bayis, healthy children, and everything good.

I turned to my little ones, “Who wants breakfast?”

In minutes, the table was covered in bowls and spoons, cereal boxes and spilled milk. And in the midst of

the breakfast chaos, I heard a cheery good morning.

I turned around. Shani had just come downstairs with her hair in a high pony, the way she slept. This was the last morning that I would see her like that when she woke up. This was the last morning that she would wake up in this house as a single girl. I ran to her and gave her a hug. We did a practice dance that ended in peals of laughter.

And then I looked at her and said, “Come, Shani. Today is a really big day. Today I get to be a mother who walks her daughter down to the chuppah. Let’s go get ready.”

The End


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 932)

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