Friday, May 21, 2004

Lila Comes Home

Last night, Karen and I drove to the Long Beach Airport. Our daughter Lila was arriving from New York where she is attending Stern College for Women, the female branch of Yeshiva University. As we drove along the LA Freeway, Karen and I talked about Lila's plans for the summer. She is interning at an architectural firm. Like me, she's an art major in college. But unlike me, she has the blessings and support of both her parents. When I told my father that I was majoring in Art History, he looked at me, frowned and said: Is that a serious field of study for an Orthodox Jewish boy? There was no answer, for it was a rhetorical question. When Lila shows me her art work, I have to stop myself from smothering her with hugs and kisses. She has so much talent and yet, she's so casual about it. In any case, as we drove to the airport Karen and I were both thinking about all the times we picked up Ariel when he came home from Ner Yisroel, his Rabbinical College in Baltimore. We were always so excited to see him, for he had a special hold on us. From the very beginning Ariel was a magical child. Endowed with an amazing intellect, he was also gentle and so very kind that we often worried that he was not made for this world. How could he fight through the normal, every day struggles that rule our lives? How could he deal with the truly unethical and vile people who are all around us? And as it turned out, he does not have to. He is spirit now and Karen and I are left to struggle and fight our way through the long days and nights. A few nights ago, in bed, in my arms, Karen said to me: We've become such sad people, Robert. And all I could do was nod and silently cry and hold on to Karen. When Leda came off the plane, Karen ran forward and hugged her. There I stood, watching my wife and my daughter, both so so beautiful that I forgot to breathe for a long second. And in that second I experienced a moment of happiness. It was fleeting, but it was real.

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