September always brings so many changes...in routines, in the weather. This year it's bringing one more huge change, unique to this year. One of my oldest and dearest friends is moving next week to Australia.
I met Shoshana just a couple of weeks or so after we moved here nine years ago. For four plus years, I worked for her as the administrative assistant at the synagogue where she was rabbi. After I left that job, we remained very good friends.
When I met her, she was engaged to be married. I remember hearing the stories of their cyberspace meeting, their subsequent long-distance romance, and finally of her wedding. I remember meeting Bobby, kind and gentle and a great science fiction writer. I remember her morning sickenss when she was pregnant with her first son, and how (before she she had made knowledge of the pregnancy public) she would wear sea bands in the office and then whip them off surreptiously whenever a member of the congregation came in. I remember when she fainted on the bimah because of low blood pressure, and how she worried about being able to make it up and down during high holy day prayers when she was pregnant. I remember making something like eighty phone calls to help announce Yonatan's birth. I remember his bris; what a beautiful baby he was. And I remember too all the times I carried him around with me at the synagogue, showing him the stained glass windows and singing songs to him, or playing with him on the floor of the office while his Ima worked at the computer. We used to joke that he'd become part of my job description. I didn't mind -- holding that little one during the first few months of his life was very healing for me in ways that are difficult to explain. It was in holding Y. that I realized, finally, that I really did feel ready for motherhood myself, after a long unsure journey toward that destination.
I still remember all the boxes and boxes from their move -- from a town several miles away to a little house here in our town, just a few blocks from us. We were amazed that B. had coded every box with a letter and number so that they knew exactly what was in every box and where it would end up going. We stayed late at their old apartment the night before the movers arrived, helping to pack the last things.
I remember all the luna bars S. ate during her second pregnancy. She used to joke that the next baby would be partially made of luna bars. And maybe he is! Nadav's always had a sweet face and sweet personality, so perhaps it had something to do with those sweet nutrition bars! And how many trips to DeWalt's health store did I make to buy S. her favorite lunch -- Amy's broccoli and cheddar potpies! Sometimes I'd get one too, and we'd chat in the big, silvery synagogue kitchen while they cooked in the microwave.
I've always loved Shoshana's parents. Devoted grandparents that they are, they've made countless trips here, for birthdays but also just to spend ordinary day to day time with their daughter and her family. I was able to recommend the wonderful bed and breakfast place (owned by my former seminary professor and his wife) that they stayed in every time they came. I will miss their visits, their zestful energy and enthusiasm.
And so many other memories -- sharing in the boys' early birthday parties (they were both born in January, but two years apart, so they celebrate jointly) and in this last one, when my own sweet girl went bowling for the first time. Hearing about B's latest project -- his varied interests and creative ideas seemed to know no bounds! Meals shared, books borrowed, phone calls and emails and countless "drop-in" visits to their small home and garden. Caring for that garden last summer when they went on their annual Montana vacation. Getting to know their wonderful tuxedo cat, Shavit, whom they rescued from the streets -- and whom they heartbreakingly gave to a new home just this past week. S' 40th birthday last year, which they combined with fourth of July festivities.
My sweet girl's second birthday when the boys came to share cake and ice cream, to play with her toy kitchen, and to give her the lovely ballerina bear peek-a-boo pillow she still plays with. Last year's Halloween party when Sarah was the only girl among seven kids -- Shoshana's boys, Sheila's boys, and Deb's boys, the six of them looking goofy and fabulous in their various superhero and other boyish costumes, ranged on the stairs, and Sarah, giggling in the front, wearing her ladybug outfit. (Sheila and family moved in March...)
These memories are just the tip of the iceberg. Suffice it to say, we will miss them and their whole family very much. The movers came on Friday so the family was exhausted and we took them lots of vegetarian Chinese food for dinner. We all sat on their front lawn on their old fouton (which hadn't fit on the truck after all) covered by a plastic tarp, and we ate and drank and enjoyed a picnic together. I looked around at the boys -- who will soon be 6 and 8 -- and at my own precious girl, now 4 -- and I realized what an awful lot of living we have all been through together, as neighbors and as friends.
And on Wednesday, they will leave for the land of kangaroos and koalas half a world away. The leaves will begin turning here on Maplewood; some of the prettiest autumn trees in town are right in their block. They'll be heading into spring at their new place.
Change is hard. It's good, it means we're growing and alive, but oh yes, sometimes it's hard.
Blessings on old friends for a good journey into new growth and green.