Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Three Cheers and Three Blessings

Ben came home from camp yesterday - yay!
Shayna came home from camp today - yay!
Melvin did not come home from camp with Shayna (YAAAAAYY!!!)

Now that our lost sheep have strayed back to the fold, I'm finding myself with an odd mixture of happy and sad emotions. Two of the kids went away for a month, neither of whom had even been away from home before (Aaron and Shalom both had gone as pre-teens). And then they came home again. The most natural, normal thing in the world... to families who are fortunate enough to count themselves among the "normal".

I think what I'm feeling now is sort of analogous to the famous story of the poor man living in a tiny, crowded house, whom the Rabbi advises to bring his cow, goat and chickens inside. After doing so, thereby of course making the situation much worse, he is told to remove them again, and the house then feels almost roomy by comparison.

The Rabbi's trick was that by establishing an artificial problem, one that his troubled petitioner had the ability to introduce and then remove at will, it made the man's real, intractable state of unpleasantness seem that much less overwhelming. But whenever I would hear this story, I was always left wondering if the Rabbi's clever psychological ploy really would have a lasting effect on the genuine tzurres that the poor man was suffering.

My family and I were dealt an overwhelming tragedy and sorrow that, while it sometimes recedes into the background - for a little while - never really leaves us. Aaron is lost to us forever. Sending Ben and Shayna off to camp felt somewhat like bringing the chickens and cow into the house. We introduced a temporary phase when two children left our home. We missed them terribly, yet knew that they were happy and healthy and not far beyond our reach. Most of all, we knew that they would, God willing, return to us soon, no worse (and hopefully better!) for the wear.

Now it has occurred as planned. And it's an indescribably strange, jarring sensation to have experienced a reversible loss this time around. This probably won't make sense to all those who - thank God - haven't gone through what we have, but it just seems too normal to be real.

I'm left feeling very grateful for the three blessings God has allowed us to keep. Yet today, perversely, my sadness and bereavement for our lost blessing are all the more intense. Like I said, odd, mixed feelings. Hopefully, ones that no more parents will ever have to experience.

But one area where my feelings are not mixed at all, is my pride that my children had the self-reliance and confidence to choose to go off on their own. When I was their ages, you couldn't have gotten me to attend sleepaway camp if you'd held a gun to my head. My attitude was kind of like that of the Peanuts characters, who saw it as a punishment. As I mentioned, Ben and Shayna were our two kids who had never gone to sleepaway camp before. So now all of my kids have done something that I never could or would.

I am beyond glad that they were able to surpass their old man in this area. As the Talmud (Sanhedrin 105b) says, "b'chol adam miskaneh, chutz mibno u'talmido" "A man can be jealous of anyone, except for his child or his student".

Way to go, guys! Keep it up.


At 7/26/06, 12:28 AM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Nice post, Elie.

Thanks you for the pasuk from the Talmud; I'll have to remember it.

At 7/26/06, 1:48 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I am disappointed that we are not going to witness the chronicles of Melvin, The Nut Eater. ;)

At 8/1/06, 12:38 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Thanks for the update, cute.

At 8/1/06, 12:47 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Thank you, Pearl, Jack and SWFM!

Jack, Shayna claims that a few days before she left, Melvin was found thrashing around, and likely met his demise, in another bunk's toilet. Not a pretty sight, I'm sure. :-{


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