It's Friday night and you've sat me down, placed a Tikkun in front of me and bid me read. Angry and resentful, I read away, eventually becoming lost in the beauty of the words. Every so often, though, I want to make sure you're really listening, so I deliberately pronounce the word "Jehovah" which earns me a lecture as you explain that I can't say that word out loud; that's God's name. I secretly smile after you finish explaining to me, assuming that I haven't remembered. I had remembered; I just wanted to make sure that you were listening.
It's nighttime and I'm frightened; I've dreamt something terrible and have woken up in bed, my face wet with hot tears, having kicked off my socks in my sleep. I roll out of bed, heaving sobs and crying, bang on the bedroom door and run inside crying for you. I clutch your hand and won't let go; I want you to save me, to comfort me, to help me. You come back with me and cuddle up with me in my bed; when I lie beside you I know that I am safe and that nothing can hurt me. You whisper to me in the night and stroke my hair, calming me.
It's Shabbos and I've answered all the Parsha questions correctly, cited The Little Midrash Says several times or perhaps corrected you on the leining. You are always happy when I do this so I listen very carefully in shul in order to make sure I can point out all your mistakes (there are very few.) It's time to bentch so I come over to sit on your lap. I enjoy being mischievous and shake my head back and forth so tendrils of long hair fly across your face and you must crinkle up your eyes. I'm laughing as you bounce me up and down on your knee.
It's a regular night and I want you to play with me so I bid you to be my Horsie and I clamber up on top of you and ride you around the room. "Giddyup, Horsie!" I cheerfully command as Mommy watches. We wander through the house until I see you making for the direction of my room. Reaching for my imaginary reigns, I attempt to steer you away from this location as I don't yet want to go to bed. This is when Mommy starts singing and we sing the Elephant song, which always makes me laugh. "We are Elephants...dun duh..." we say as we position our arms and wave our trunks around.
It's homework time and I am puzzling over math, frustrated beyond belief. I come to you angrily and explain that the subject is worthless and that I hate it. You patiently force me to work through the problems until I understand them. I simply don't like expending energy; I don't like expending effort when usually things come to me so easily. You understand this but are not pleased by this character trait and wish to rectify it. It's because of you that I master Geometry.
It's a challenge that we've mastered; we've all learned Al Hamichya by heart or engaged in some other program so that now we deserve a treat. We pile into the car and you drive around the city, finally stopping at Dairy Star. "Dairy Star! Dairy Star!" we exclaim, already envisioning the delicious treats which we shall soon enjoy. You are amazed by the quantities of ice cream that we can eat, preferring to get a small cup of water, watch us eat our ice cream under the widespread umbrella picnic table and enjoy the night breeze.
It's game time and you've beaten me at Checkers yet again. "One day I'll beat you," I say and my eyes are twinkling. You enjoy playing me, even though I ask for you to play with me too frequently; this is because I don't know yet that you are supposed to play games with friends, with other people your age. You never go easy on me; you always play to win. But Checkers is my special game with you; I can't look at a Checker board without thinking of you.
It's Summer at YU and I'm on the phone with you and I am sobbing, a complete wreck, crying into the phone because I don't know what else to do. I am so angry with myself for falling apart on you but I am also so scared and so mad; I am sick of being lonely and sick of feeling different. But mostly I'm scared because of how intensely I am hurting. You know exactly the right words to say. You are quiet for a time and listen to me and then you calm me; you cite the Lubavitcher Rebbe to me and make me feel like it's okay; it's not a curse but a gift. And you show me how to understand and then help me to deal when everything becomes too much.
It's carpool time and we're in the car, you behind the wheel and I in the front seat. We're having one of our intense deep meaningful conversations during which everything you say seems so clear and logical and I suddenly understand so much more than I had before. I always valued these conversations but I never knew you did until I switched carpools and you no longer drove me to school. "I miss talking to you in the mornings," you said and you didn't know how happy you made me.
I think of you so many times a day; everything is in some way related to you. When something good happens I immediately want to tell it to you, when something bad happens I want to talk to you in order to get your opinion and advice. I can't listen to "Stairway to Heaven" without thinking of you, but then, "American Pie," "Puff the Magic Dragon" and anything by The Beatles also gets me that way. I miss our midnight discussions. I miss playing Hansel and Gretel with you, and for that matter I miss playing Sleeping Beauty on Sunday mornings (remember how you wouldn't wake up unless I gave you a kiss?) And I miss your leining. After all, I am the Ba'al Korei's daughter.
The thing that has always made me proudest is to say I am your daughter.
Love you Daddy.