Women and Shoes and Blessings
Offspring Number Two, Lila, 19, is home from Stern College for Women. In New York City, Stern is one of the few campuses in the United States where the students do not organize "Take Back the Night" marches. They do not have to because the religious Jewish women in Stern have enough common sense not to: a)drink themselves insensible b)dress like Britney Spears, ie like sluts c) and then go back to a hormone driven boy's dorm room after a night of drinking, dancing and flirting, and expect the boy to be satisfied with a deep conversation about Kierkegaard's notions of sin and redemption.
In any case, on Shabbos several large boxes were delivered to the house. "It's my stuff," said Lila, "Books and some clothing." After Shabbos, I opened the boxes and found four books, and about twenty pair of shoes. Some clothing? Lila is a master of understatement. Living with three women I have learned an essential cosmic truth: women need shoes the way men need, well, sports programs. For women and shoes the relationship is even deeper. Women will buy shoes with absolutely no intention of wearing them. They realize that the last is too narrow, the heel so high that it induces a nose bleed, but the attraction is so powerful that to own the shoe becomes something of an obsession, a fetish. So, Lila brings home the loot from a year with a credit card in New York -- far more dangerous than a child and an Uzi -- and discovers that there is no place to keep them in her room in LA. Her room is not designed for a budding Imelda Marcos. Ever practical, Lila bought a shoe rack yesterday. "Daaaaaaddy, help me put it together. Pleeeeeease." I sat on the floor hammering together a six foot tower, a sculptural monument to display shoes. I hammered (my thumb all too often) and Lila read the instructions to me: "Insert part a into part b being extra careful that part c and part e are not parrallel to part f and g." Talmud is far easier. We were right outside Ariel's room. I looked up into his empty bedroom and I said to myself: If Ariel were here he would look at us and he would smile. No one could make Ariel smile and laugh like his two sisters. He loved the way they wrap me around their well manicured little fingers, once saying to me: "Dad, you should see your face when the girls ask you to do something for them." What do you mean?" I asked. "You're just so happy, so anxious to do anything for them, it shows on your face." "Well Ariel, that's what being a parent is, you want to give to your children. The more you give, the more you love. You'll find out when you're a father." "I can't wait," he said, "I want to have chidren" "How many?" I asked. "Many, many." He responded. Well, Ariel will not have children. He will not know the joy of hammering together a shoe rack for a shoe obsessed daughter. But when I do it, when I do anything for Lila or Chloe I remind myself that I am lucky. My heart may be broken, but I am still blessed with Lila and Chloe, and to forget this would be a sin. To neglect this would also mean giving less to the daughters I adore; and that I will not do. Not to them, not to me. Karen and I are broken vessels, but Hashem works with broken vessels and we must learn from Hashem.
I would like to thank those who have written to me over the past few days. Your generous words have given a beautiful gift to us; the gift of empathy, of shared experience and feelings. When I started this blog I worried that perhaps I was exhibiting an unattractive narcissistic element to my mourning, but now I know that my bottomless grief is all too common. To you who read and write to me: We are strangers in name only. A special thanks to Pup who linked me to his website: vintageknives.com