Here we go....my speech at the Big Man's Big Day!
I wrote this speech last week, and I’m still not 100% sure I’m going to give it…but here goes.
There is a story told, a story which I think is very overtold, of the trip to Holland. Every parent of a special needs child knows it, and I’m sure many of you do. But to paraphrase – you were planning, and left, on a trip to Venice, but you got diverted to Holland. You were upset because you didn’t plan on going to Holland-you planned on Venice. But in the end, you see that not only is Holland not too bad, but it’s a beautiful alternative, full of people and experiences you would have never had in Venice.
This is truly our life. When Dovi was born, Benjie and I were innocent, bright eyed 20 year olds. Never did we imagine how our lives were going to change, were going to turn upside down, when Dovi was born on November 13, 1997 at 7:31 am. He looked…perfect. 10 fingers, 10 toes. A perfect little fluffy head of hair. But soon after he came home, it became apparent that things were not as they normally are. Thus began our journey with Dovi. At times, it has been easy. At times, difficult. There have been times of excruciating pain and sadness and times of uninmaginable joy and elation. But through it all, Dovi has simply been our sweet, happy, joyful boy, our Dovi.
It says in Tehillim:
(I said the Hebrew here)
“Serve Hashem with gladness, come before him with joyous song. Know that Hashem, He is G-d, it is He who made us and we are His”
There is in that passage, a Kri-UK’Siv – you read the word one way, but it is written another. You read the word Lo as Lo with a Vav- His – we are His-we are HaShem’s. But Dovid HaMelech wrote the possuk as Lo with an Aleph – which translates to Not. If you translate that part of the posuk that way, using the Lo as Lo with an Aleph, it could be translated as follows:
“Serve HaShem with gladness, come before Him with joyous song. Know that HaShem, He is G-d, it is He who made us and not us.” We, people, did not choose how we were to made. HaShem did. He knew, and planned how each and every one of us were to be created. He created us perfect and Btzalmo, in His image. This is Dovi. He serves HaShem with joy. There is no one that I know of who loves life and is more joyful than Dovi. And he is made exactly the way HaShem wanted him, in His image.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child. I think that in the case of Dovi, it’s more like a small city. I can honestly say that each and every person here has had an important role in Dovi’s life. From Dovi’s pediatrician and nurses to Chai Lifeline, Kids of Courage, Keshet, therapists, and all of our friends, each and every one of you has profoundly impacted not just Dovi’s life, but our entire family’s as well.
From meals and childcare when things are crazy, ski trips and trips to Disney. From Camp Simcha Special, to helping Dovi grow and learn at school to his highest potential. From faxing just one more prescription to giving Dovi the gift of speech. From supporting us through the hard times and celebrating with us in the good times. Every one of you is important. To Benjie and I and to Dovi as well.
But now I do need to thank some people individually. It’s a dangerous endeavor because someone is inevitably forgotten, but I’ll give it a try.
To my mother in law and father in law, Mom and Abba. Thank you for always being there for us, as emergency – or just because – babysitters. We love having you near us and seeing you on an almost daily basis. Abba, thank you for teaching Dovi his laining with such patience and love.
To my mother and step father, Mommy and Hershel. Words cannot do justice for all that you are to us. Mommy, I am the person that I am today because of you. You set a shining example for what it is to love your family with all your heart.
To all my brothers, sisters, sisters in law, and brother in law. David and Debby, Aaron and Tamar, and Rebecca and Nahum, and my nieces and nephews, Yaffa, Meira, Adira, Noam, Shoshie, Estie, Shaindy, Tzipporah, Eliyahu, Akiva, Simcha, Nissy, and Yitzie. Thank you for making the long trip from NY and NJ to be here today. They say you can’t choose your family, but given a choice, I would choose you guys. I love you all so much.
David and Rochie. You two do so much for us, I’m not sure I could even start. Your love and ongoing presence, both by being physically nearby (even though we are north of Touhy), and emotionally, in our lives, means so much to us. Gavi, Miri, Tari, Nava, and Naftali-you guys are amazing.
Aunt Yehudit, or should I say Auntie Leedle – it means so much to us that you came all the way from Israel to celebrate with us. Although you are physically far away, you and your family are always close in our hearts.
The same could be said for Benjie’s Bubbie, Bubbie Rose. Thank you so much for coming so far from Israel for us. It means the world to us that you are with us today.
To all of Dovi’s teachers, doctors, and therapists. It is because of all of you that Dovi is the boy-I mean man-that he is today. A special thank you to Gail Scher for giving Dovi the gift of speech.
A huge thank you to Aharon Gutstein for learning with Dovi on an almost daily basis. It blows me away how you teach Dovi mishnayos with such enthusiasm and simchas hachaim. Thank you!
To all of Dovi’s counselors – especially Raphi and Yakov. You guys are amazing! What you do for Dovi, and all the campers, is beyond comprehension. And yes, when Dovi says potato you are supposed to give him whatever he wants. And if he says avocado? You’d better give in right away!
Elisha, Shana, and Jakie. You are the most wonderful, caring, loving brothers and sister Dovi could ever wish for. The patience and love you show Dovi every day amazes me. I love you all so much and am so proud to be your mom.
Now Benjie. What a strange, wonderful journey this has been. There is no one else I would want to share this with. Yes, I might make everything look pretty on the outside, but without a strong foundation, pretty means nothing. It is your patience, love, and caring that provides that strong foundation for our entire family. Thank you for everything you do for us each and every day. I love you very much.
And now my Dovi, my Bar Mitzvah MAN. I love you so much. You are my bechor. You have taught me so much. About patience (which I’m still working on!) About love. About appreciating the journey, and enjoying the little things in life. You have enriched my life beyond all my wildest expectations. I love you so much and wish you many years of arichas yamim, health and happiness.
I was rather proud of it :)