What? No Seder?

I was somewhat ambivalent about “going public” with this essay. I didn’t want to put my Jewish community in a negative light or leave even one of my fellow Jews open to criticism or judgment. Another part of me figured that if Jews were struggling with how Covid-19 is impacting our spiritual life — how we pray, how we do or do not gather, how we’ll cope with living our holiday rites and rituals — others would be too. People of faith are people of faith. Your struggles are mine and vice versa. May we all find way to celebrate the bitter and the sweet in this terrible time of Corona. DBD.


My rabbi told me he and his colleagues are hearing from congregants who may well forgo Seder completely this year.  

What’s the Seder without the children and   grandchildren?
Why go to such bother for just the two of us?
 It’s just me? What kind of Seder will that be?

When I heard this, I became as distressed as he was. Not have  Seder? I get it. Well, I get the impulse, the inclination to withdraw. But if ever there was a time to have Seder, this is it! In one of the Zooms I did last week, Rabbi Asher Lopatin commented that this year’s Seder will be akin to the first one in Exodus — families huddled in their homes eating their own meals — while mayhem carries on outside. No matter what is going on “outside” we are commanded to retell the story to our children, this very story of huddling in fear, of liberation by God’s outstretched hand, of eating matzoh for seven days (eight now in the diaspora.)

Here’s one of the things I have always loved about being and doing Jewish. When we carry on a tradition, any tradition, we honor and fulfill commandments dictated to us in an ancient scroll. When it says in Exodus 12:24, “You shall observe this as an institution for all time, for you and for your descendants” that means us. We are those very descendants enacting and re-enacting events that hadn’t even yet been digested within historical context.This is a Pesach time unlike any we will have experienced. We need, we must give ourselves over to it despite how weird or strange or uncomfortable it will feel. We have become so used to the Seder paradigm — crowded dining rooms, family and friends from all over, creating new experiences to bring the story to life — that it is hard and painful to imagine doing it any other way. Clandestine Seders were held in concentration camps and in a ghetto bunker the night of the Warsaw Uprising. Who are we to say no to retelling the Passover story at this time of pandemic?

This year we don’t necessarily need props or novel interpretations. Covid-19 is bringing the Passover story to life, giving us an opportunity to join hands with our ancestors who had no idea what would happen come morning, nor any idea what lay at the end of their journey. What if we shared our Seder with them? What if we shared something from the wide arc of Jewish history that they set in motion? What if we spoke to them as they speak to us each year?

If there are no children at the table this year to recount the story of the Exodus to, why not remember ourselves as children and tell that child the story as we might have liked to have heard it? There will be plenty of  Zoom Seders to attend. There will also be Seders like my friend Anita’s who is stepping into the experience with loins girded.  By choice, she will not Zoom but will celebrate her Seders solo. What a story she will have to share afterwards.

What a story we will all have to share afterwards. Because you can be sure next year a child or grandchild will ask a guest at the table, “What was your Seder last year during the pandemic?” And you shall say to her…What?  What will you say?

I just received a wonderful resource by Rabbi Avi Weiss. Please give a look.

Why is This Night Different?


Pesach 5780

Why is this night different from
all other nights?

On all other nights
guests wedge themselves
around dining tables,
seated thigh to thigh
like rush-hour subway riders.

On this night we Zoom. 

On all other nights
sideboards and tables
muster muscles in offering.
Verne’s gefilte fish,
Lynne’s charoset,
Tim’s soups,
Paul Cohen’s Chocolate Oblivion,
and LemonTorte.

On this night we eat small.

On all other nights
we open the door
to family,
the stranger.

On this night to Elijah alone. 

On all other nights
we read of plagues
and miracles, of parting seas.
We dip fingers into wine
reducing our joy in the face
of other’s tragedy.

On all other nights we
are our ancestors
retelling and reliving
bitterness and bricks
salted tears and sacrifice.
And renewal — the egg and parsley

On this night, too
we will retell
and recount
and relive.
We will dip twice, and question and lean.

We will do what we have done
ever since a Mighty Hand
stretched out and parted the seas
for a terrified and liberated people
who walked upon dry land
to the other side.

— Debra Darvick

The Seeds We Plant

“Pagrates!” Olivia said at Rosh Hashanah dinner earlier this month. “Pagrates!”  Today’s twenty month olds have sophisticated palates. Pomegranates are a staple at such holiday dinners, their seeds symbolic of our hopes for abundance in the new year. This deep red fruit, with its fanciful crown, inspires us to consider what we will plant over the next twelve months.  Will our seeds bear fruit or pain? Will the dream-seeds of our goals reach their full potential or merit additional time to flower?  

We now approach the end of the year’s cycle of Torah readings — V’zot Habracha, “This is the Blessing.” For me, it is the most heartbreaking reading in the entire Torah. Moses is at the end of his journey. The Israelites are about to enter the land of milk and honey. For forty confusing, contentious, and often confounding years, this reluctant prophet planted within their hearts seeds of faith, of resilience, of self-determination readying them for the moment the Promised Land would be theirs.  For misdirecting his anger and disobeying one of God’s directives, Moses is barred entry and must settle for a concessionary glimpse from afar. Then he dies, God’s kiss upon his lips.

In the future lie the promised lands of Olivia’s Bat Mitzvah, wedding, or motherhood. Will I reach them? No matter how much kale I consume, the ultimate decision lies Elsewhere. But seeds are being planted, some by design, some by happenstance.

A few weeks ago I brought Olivia to shul and was given an aliyah, the honor of reciting  blessings over the Torah before and after it is read.  Up she came with me. Balanced on my left hip, Olivia was riveted. When our ba’al kriyah (Torah reader) began chanting, she didn’t take her eyes from his face. Olivia will be called to the Torah some 11 or so years hence as a Bat Mitzvah. At that time, and for the first time as a Daughter of the Commandments, she will recite these ancient words. Deep within her subconscious will a tendril of memory of our shared aliyah unfurl?

Our first outing in my car, I cued up some Crosby, Stills and Nash. Three bars into Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Olivia called out, “Next song!”  Tracks two and three were met with similar dismissal.  Alas. The next CD — Jewish prayers and texts arranged in the call-and-response mode of kirtan music — was more to Miss O’s liking. The words on the first track, Dodi Li, comprise Judaism’s traditional wedding vows.  Now, as soon as I  buckle her into the car seat, Olivia calls out, “Dodi Yee!  Dodi Yee!” Each note of the song is a seed yet to flower. When Olivia stands beneath a chuppah one day and recites, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” a distant melody may twine its way through the air. She might also have a sudden and puzzling hankering for Cheerios.

Then there is the doll my mother called Madame Butterfly. I was not much older than Olivia is now when indulgent family friends brought her back from Japan for me. Madame Butterfly’s split toe socks and zori shoes disappeared a long time ago, but her kimono costume and intricately-styled yarn hair are intact. Olivia has renamed her Baby and asks for her within minutes of visiting. She understands Baby’s fragility and sits patiently on the couch, waiting for me to put Baby in her arms. Gently, Olivia cradles Baby, rocking her and crooning to her in that high sweet voice we humans instinctively use with infants. I look on and marvel as Olivia gives to my sixty year old doll the deep love she has received her since her conception.

There are Promised Lands I may never reach. But I have been given glimpses. Until then, Olivia and I will continue to share pomegranate seeds, car rides, and maybe even some Crosby, Stills and Nash before too long.                                                                                                                                        



“If you are able, please rise.”

During any worship service, Jews do a lot of standing.  There’s the Amidah, “the standing prayer” at the core of each service. We stand when doors of the Holy Ark containing our Torah scrolls are opened. We stand to recite the Kaddish (a memorial prayer.) We stand for (non-memorial) Kaddishes that punctuate various transitions during the worship service, conclude of a brief period of learning within a service, or celebrate the completion of an extended period of study of certain texts. We stand for the Kiddush which is a prayer recited over wine or grape juice and is not to be confused with Kaddish. We stand during the hakafah when the Torah is walked through the congregation. During the High Holidays there is even more standing. 

So it was, during this past High Holiday season, that I became vexed at a woman who remained seated during an entire service. She didn’t seem to have a physical limitation; there was no walker within reach or cast on her foot. When we stood in unison to recite the Amidah, she sat.  When the ark was opened, she sat. When the congregation rose for the memorial Kaddish, she sat. Not only didn’t she stand, but she never opened a prayer book, opting instead for her Kindle.  Perhaps she had a vision impairment and had downloaded the service on her e-reader so that she could enlarge the type? No, she was just reading a book. Not The Book. I was waxing wroth big time. Why was she acting with such obvious disrespect?  She had to be Jewish. No non-Jew would have behaved so obtusely.  

Then the words of Rabbi Alicia Magal came to me. She leads a congregation in Sedona, AZ where the average age of the worshippers is in the 60’s. Inevitably someone is recovering from surgery. Or has taken a tumble on a hike and is casted or bandaged. Or endures some other infirmity and can only rise in his or her heart.  Rabbi Magal’s invitation is always phrased thus, “If you are able, please rise.” 

It occurred to me that perhaps the woman two seats over simply wasn’t able to rise, for whatever reason. Physical impairments are not always visible. Emotional ones even less so.  Perhaps she hadn’t attended synagogue in years due to some tangled tormented emotional pain and resentment. Showing up Rosh Hashanah morning was as far as she could rise. Perhaps she was there out of deference to her husband and some grand bargain they had struck: she would attend but would remain seated and take refuge not in the prayers but in her Kindle. Perhaps she remained seated simply to mirror back to me my own pissy judgment.

That realization sent me on a train of thought about this coming year and the inevitable expectations I will place upon those in my circle. I began considering the ways I have expected others to rise to my standards and my subsequent judgments when I perceived they didn’t. I pondered the unknown and unconsidered ways I surely had not risen to my loved ones’ hopes this past year and began to consider how I might rise to them in this New Year.

“If you are able, please rise.” How many times is each of us just not able? Not because we don’t care but because of some inner barrier, known or unknown, that disables us. How many times do we rise but it just doesn’t look like it from the outside? How often have I refused to rise simply because I didn’t wanna? How will this year be different?

The woman two seats over will never know the impact she had on me. I am grateful to her for rising that Rosh Hashanah morning to attend synagogue. Sitting through the entire service, she invited me to rise. I pray to be able.

The many faces and many languages of Debra Darvick

HIGHLIGHTING DEBRA’S CREATIVITY—We have several fun ways for you to enjoy Debra Darvick’s creativity this week. First, please read our Cover Story about Debra’s book, We Are Jewish Faces, a colorful picture book of Jewish diversity. We are celebrating with Debra the news that her book has been chosen by the worldwide PJ Library for distribution in 2019! Please, share this news with friends.

IMAGES ALSO TELL A STORY—Debra’s multi-faceted media work also includes the creation of a set, called Picture a Conversation, that may look like a stack of beautiful full-color postcards at first glance. In fact, each card’s image prompts people to think about several questions, which are printed on the back of each card. Here’s more about the history of this unique project. But what are the limits of picture-based reflections? Well, Debra has just written a column about communication with her infant granddaughter—which includes a great little story about sharing an image across generations.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Every week, we share a Front Edge Publishing column full of news and tips about professional media. This week, Marketing Director Susan Stitt writes about how the authors we publish are doing in their efforts to present engaging Amazon Author Pages. As it turns out, Debra Darvick is No. 1 on Susan Stitt’s list of great examples.

Want to learn more about publishing today? Please, share this home address with friends: www.FrontEdgePublishing.com

David Bergman, of blessed memory,

When I met David Bergman, before I even began to interview him to include his story in This Jewish Life, he said me, “Never refer to me or anyone else who was in a concentration camp as a “prisoner.”  A prisoner has been incarcerated for breaking the law. We were not prisoners; we had done nothing wrong.  We were captives. We were held captive.”

Mr. Bergman survived what he called a “Ring of Fire” and for as long as I knew him, he was eternally on a quest, as you will read in his story, to understand why he survived.  Why had he lived, time and again, when others had not?

I do not know that Mr. Bergman ever found the answer that stilled his inner quest. For me, because he survived, I have been able to study and learn from  his son, Rabbi Aaron Bergman. So have my children and my husband. Martin and I took classes with Rabbi Bergman’s wife, Ruth, who in her own right is a superb teacher. Ruth and Aaron have four beautiful daughters whom I can only assume have brought joy and naches (Yiddish for the kind of pride that makes you burst with delight from the inside out) to everyone who knows them.  May his memory be for a blessing

It is in Mr. Bergman’s memory that I post his story here.


RING OF FIRE                                                                                                                                                   the story of David Bergman

When I was about eight years old I asked my rabbi, “What does God look like?” Sixty years later I still remember his answer.

“I cannot tell you what God  looks like,” the rabbi said, “but when you take your last breath, you will see God.  You will  see a ring of fire and there you will see God in the middle of it.”  As a child, I visualized God’s ring of fire being about as big around as the wooden rain barrel we kept outside the doorway between the garden and the back entry to our home in Bockow, where I lived with my parents, grandparents, sister and brother, in the Carpathian mountains of Czechoslovakia .

I never questioned whether God really existed in a ring of fire.  I visualized the ring of fire even though I couldn’t visualize what God looked like within it.  When you’re that young, you obey your parents; you trust what they tell you.  What they say is emes, the truth, and that’s it.

Five years after that conversation with my rabbi, I was thrown into a ring of fire much larger than our rain barrel.  The ring of fire encircled concentration camps and extermination camps.  The ring of fire encompassed unspeakable cruelty, humiliation, the darkest and most brutal side of humanity imaginable.  It was a ring of death.  And just like my rabbi told me, God was right there in the middle of it.  I am here to tell of it and because I am, I cannot but think that God was there, too.

I have not been so much concerned with the question, “Why did God allow the Holocaust to happen?”  From what I have seen and experienced, I have to say that the urge to kill and the urge to be compassionate are a combination of inborn traits and external environments.  God planted within us the capacity to be cruel or compassionate and  the ability to choose the path we want to take.

The question I have wrestled with all these years is, “Why me? Why did I survive?”  After years of pondering this I have concluded that God doesn’t give us the privilege to know why.  All we are allowed to see are the results.  If you try to answer “Why?” all you can come up with is speculation, a belief, and a guess.  God only allows us to see the results.  Those results can be survival, Israel, or our grandchildren; it’s up to us to see God’s results.  What I am aware of is that the answer to the question, “Why did I survive?” is a series of extended events, one result after another that kept me alive.  “Why did I survive?” is the relationship I forged with God within the Holocaust’s ring of fire.

When the doors to the freight train opened in Auschwitz, my eyes were filled with scenes of beatings.  Of shootings.  Women, children, and old men cut down by bullets and clubs.  It seemed no one was to be spared. In a single moment, everything

I had read and learned in cheder:  following God’s commandments, praying twice a day — all of it went blank, as if it never happened. In its place  a new force of survival took control of my life.  I wasn’t even aware of it.  I had no time to think.  Survival was everything.  I went from having a family to suddenly being thrown into hell; from somewhere deep within me there came a strong desire to live.

In the midst of all the chaos I heard a voice telling me to get out of the children’s line.  It was a silent voice; the words were in my head like when you are hungry and you hear an internal voice saying, “It’s time to eat.” You don’t hear it but it’s a silent signal.  Well, this was the same type of voice signaling me that I was in danger.  “Get out of the children’s line,” it said.  And there in the line I had a conversation with this voice.

“How do I get out of the line?” I asked it.

“The guards are watching you now.  But see how they are beating the children? See the adults trying to go to the children?  When the guards are occupied with them quickly run to the adult side.”

I have no proof that there was a voice.   At the momentI wasn’t even thinking that I was communicating with God.  All I have are the results.  I am here.  Within two hours, those in the children’s line were all dead.

And so I followed the voice’s command, waiting for the guards to be distracted and then making my move to the adult line.  When I did, I found my father.  But don’t think that being in the adult line meant I was safe.  In the adult line it was look and point, look and point.  The Nazi officer quickly appraised us and pointed us to life or death.  With a flick of his hand he wielded a malevolent inversion of God’s power.  When it came to my turn the officer stopped.  “What are you doing in this line?” He growled.  “How old are you?”  As I was about to admit my age, the force inside me suppressed my voice and prevented me from speaking up.

Standing beside me my father sensed something was wrong and told the guard I was fourteen.  I wanted to shout the truth; my father had never lied in his life and there he was lying to a Nazi officer!  I didn’t know then that I was standing between life and death.  The Nazi officer ordered my father and me into the work line.  Shortly afterward, my voice returned.

We were seven days in Auschwitz when an officer entered our barracks and ordered me, my father and fifteen others onto a freight train that would take us to a work camp.  When the door was bolted shut and the train began to move, my father announced to everyone present, “Today my son is bar mitzvah.” I had completely forgotten about it, but my becoming bar mitzvah meant so much to my father that he risked his life, hiding a small bottle of wine in his clothes.  He passed around the bottle of wine.  They all took a sip and made a toast to me in honor of my bar mitzvah.

Three hours later we arrived in the work camp of Plaszov.  We heard that only those who have a trade will survive.  When they asked for tailors my father stepped out of the line.  When they asked for bricklayers the voice returned to me once again, telling me to raise my hand.  And so I did and was put to work as a bricklayer.  I followed what the others did — mixing cement and placing the stones to build walls. Five, ten times a day we walked from where they mined the stones to where we built the walls.  After three months my father and I were separated.  I never saw him again.

By May of 1944 the Russians were getting closer and the Nazis sent me from

Plaszov to Gross Rosen, another extermination camp.  By this time I knew my life depended on convincing the Nazis I was old enough to work. The voice returned to me.  “Tell them you are sixteen.  Look them straight in the eye; tell them you are sixteen and do not break your focus for a moment.”  When you look someone in the eye they have to look back.  I must have convinced him that I was sixteen because he  let me go to the work line.

Was the voice of God helping me to survive?  I know I didn’t do it all on my own.  I have the results.  There I was, thirteen years old, not knowing why I was there, why I was being exposed to such horrible things.  But I didn’t have the luxury to dwell on such thoughts.  There was not time even to give thanks when each time my life was spared.  This was survival.  Do you want to live or do you want to die?  If you want to live, focus on survival.  I wanted to live and that phrase “I want” became the hallmark of my survival, the connection to the voice that kept me out of death’s grasp.

In Gross Rosen and then again in Reichenbach I had close call after close call.  One day I was standing in roll call waiting to be sent to work.  We had strict orders not to move, not to look in any direction.  But when I heard a noise in the sky, I couldn’t hold back.  I looked up to see American bombers streaking through the sky.  I gazed at the sky with envy, just wishing I was in one of those planes.

Suddenly the Nazi officer saw that I have disobeyed a rule.  “Schweinhund!” he bellowed.  “Pigdog!  Why are you disobeying me?”  Club in his hand, ready to beat me to death, he waited for me to answer.  And the voice that had guided me every step of this nightmare said, “Focus on his eyes and stay silent.”  You can imagine the restraint it took not to stammer some excuse, not to plead for mercy.  The entire camp was looking in our direction.

“I’ve got news for you,” he barked.  “You’ll never make it out of this camp alive!”  Still I didn’t answer and the voice inside my head said,  “You will be free again and you will see their mighty country destroyed.”  And all of a sudden the commandant turned around and walked away from me!   No one had ever defied a Nazi officer and lived.  But I had.  I listened to the voice and I survived.  But I knew I was living on borrowed time.

I was not Reichenbach’s only only underage captive.  In an effort to flush out those of us who were under sixteen, the Nazi camp commandant  promised extra food rations to any captive who turned us in.   In this way, I and about fifteen others were  pulled from the work group to be shipped to an extermination camp.  Facing death, I focused as hard as I could on the desire to live and be returned to a work group.  “I want to live.”  “I want to live!” I repeated again and again to myself.  All of a sudden I began feeling pulsations, similar to electrical shocks emanating through my mind like mysterious Morse code messages.

Then someone in a work detail suddenly fainted.  Instead of choosing a captive from the line of replacements, the Nazi camp commandant went from one end of the camp  to the other and stopped right in front of me and ordered, “Heraus!”   “Out!”  He could have taken any of the captives standing nearby.  He could have chosen any one of the youths  from the group I was standing in.  But he didn’t. He came at me with an angry voice.  He seemed to be moving against his will, like someone was forcing him.  And he ordered me back into the work group.

I have wrestled with this issue for decades.  What made the Nazi commandant walk across the entire camp, stop right in front of me and send me in as a replacement for the man who fainted?  Those youth I had been standing with were all gassed.  I got back to work exhilarated, if exhilaration is possible in such a circumstance.  My elation lasted only moments.  I knew this Nazi camp commandant was obsessed with not allowing children my age to survive and I wondered each morning if it would be my last.

From Reichenbach, I and a hundred and fifty others were sent to Dachau.  I escaped the crematoria by yet another miracle.  During that seven-day journey, we received no food.  Why feed those who can no longer work?  I had passed out  and, being taken for dead, was placed on a wooden stretcher bound for the crematoria.  A worker saw my hand move and smuggled me into a barracks where he and other heroic captives shared their meager rations with me so that I could survive.

Two months later I was liberated.  I came to America and during the Korean War was drafted into the Air Force.  I was sent to Germany and just like the voice predicted, I saw with my own eyes the destruction of that once mighty and forever horrible country.

Some people are given the gift of creating art or music.  I was given the gift of survival, the ability to visualize what I wanted.  When my feet were cut and bleeding I saw them whole and healing.  Never once did they become infected. Never once in fourteen months of captivity did I have a cold or develop any of the diseases raging through the camps.  Never once did I have a nosebleed, something that plagued me before the war and after.

In captivity I had the choice of striving for survival or giving up.  God didn’t come and tell me, “Give up or not.”  He left it up to me; he built into me a striving for survival.  The voice is with me to this day.  In the morning I am in pain from arthritis, but I want to walk.  I want to be with my beautiful granddaughters.  And so I walk despite the pain and boom! the pain is gone.  I chose to marry.  I choose to enjoy my grandchildren.  I choose to balance my terrible memories with things that give me pleasure.

After all these years I have concluded that the “I want” element that sustained me is actually the soul and the spirit of our being.  It is the pipeline connecting us to God.  When I was in captivity and said to myself, “I want,” I was actually reaching out to God, asking God to give me whatever it would take to survive.  And sure enough God was always there for me when I reached out to Him.  Within the ring of fire I drew not my last breath, but my next.  Again and again and again.


This Jewish Life, Stories of Discovery Connection and Joy contains 54 stories of transforming Jewish experiences.  Learn more here.

My Friends Were Right

“There’s nothing like it,” my friends began saying. “Nothing in the world!” They weren’t talking kale or cilantro. Or the season’s best read. They were talking grandchildren.  Yes, grandchildren.  “Just wait,” they’d say, smug with a knowledge that admittedly I didn’t possess.

I did have 63 combined years of parenting my now-adult children. That’s more than a fleeting familiarity with being utterly smitten-drunk in love with my babies. I know the elation of that slew of firsts — smiles, hugs, laughs, raspberries, teeth, steps.  I can revisit the highs of hearing my kids’ first words because I still have the journals recording their mamas, dadas, I wuv ooos, and nos! How much more love could my heart generate? Or need to?

And then Olivia was born. My friends were right. Each and every one. There is nothing like it. Nothing in the world. Olivia disappears time. I am with her and the world drops away.  I watch her, love her, play with her fully in the now.  Forget meditation. Forget  mindfulness practice and yin yoga.  When I am with Olivia, I am alive within every moment as if as newly-arrived as she is. Whether we’re rolling a ball down an improvised slide, or clapping hands, or trying to catch a ribbon of water as it falls from the spout at bath time, that’s all that exists. In tandem we discover the world — a magical universe of unfurling surprises.

My heart has no assignment but to love. It isn’t obsessed with schedules or deadlines. It doesn’t future-fret about college or carpools. It neither second guesses me nor sinks in the face of newbie insecurities.  There’s no obsession over milestones. Olivia’s teeth will come in when they are ready to emerge. She will crawl when she’s ready to locomote. She will speak when speech clicks for her. She will walk when crawling no longer serves her. While those milestones wait in the wings, all I am called upon to do is love this delicious sweet bundle of squeals and grins, luscious wrinkles and dreamy softness.

As a new parent, I glommed onto something Mr. Rogers said about becoming a parent giving you a second crack at your own childhood.  I well nigh engraved that one upon my heart.  My kids and I delighted in bugs and bunnies. We read endlessly. We danced in the rain and played dress up. With the help of wise therapists, I healed childhood traumas striving to become the kind of parent my children deserved to have.  Rain puddles aside, my reality never wavered —   I was first and foremost a parent.  My job was to guide and discipline, to role model the kind of people I hoped my children would become.  I traveled a road much taken yet one not infrequently marked by uncertainty, fear, delight, passion, confidence and self-doubt.  Somehow we all made it through.

In those early years, I wrote in my journal, “Oh, I just wish I could have perspective.  I just want to know it will all be OK!”  Such innocent and impossible yearnings.  For perspective belongs to the time-weathered. Perspective now lies gently in my hand, the same hand that once gripped a pen as if it were a magic wand, as if inking a mere word on a page could manifest it into my life.

I have joined that club my friends so lovingly and smugly knew would change my life and     I have no idea if it will all be OK.  We have escaped many sorrows; others rained down upon us and upon our children. Today, we prevail. Tomorrow, who knows?  But in this moment, everything is OK. Unfettered by the worries that forest the landscape of parenthood, I simply witness and cherish each of Olivia’s moments.

Mr. Rogers was right. Becoming a parent gives you a second crack at childhood.  What he didn’t say was that becoming a grandparent gives you a second crack at parenthood. Becoming a grandparent allows you to walk beside the young mother still within you, healing her and praising her, comforting her and celebrating her and sometimes, when the moment is right, gently and respectfully sharing her hard-fought wisdom with the generation now coming up. Nothing beats that. Not even kale.