What Shoes Should I Wear?

It’s an age old question. What shoes should I wear to the party?

It’s an age old debate. What's more important, comfort or fashion?

Add them all up. How many hours have I spent contemplating these issues?

Today, I really don’t care because there is no party. There should have been. Simon would have turned 13. He would have been leading his bar mitzvah service. I would have given a speech in front of the congregation declaring that my son was the best. My husband would have had to finish the speech because I always cry in those situations. I am crying today too, but it’s a different cry.

We would have celebrated with friends and family. We would have watched a montage that highlighted his most embarrassing moments, unique experiences, and cherished friendships. We would have reflected on thirteen years of memories, and wondered how so much time passed us by so quickly.

I’m not going to pretend that it would have been all rainbows and unicorns. There most certainly would have been a fight about wearing a suit and tie, taking one more photo, or spending just a little time with family instead of obsessing over friends. I might have even uttered, “Stop it, you are ruining the big weekend.” Today, I would give anything to ”ruin” the weekend.

I still made that montage. You can watch it here. I had to. To be honest, it is the first time since his death that I’ve looked through all of the photos and videos. There weren’t that many. Simon’s life was way too short. He was three months old when he passed away from a detectable and treatable heart condition.

As for that speech, I can’t really figure out what I would have said because I didn’t get to know him. He smiled. He pooped. He had acid reflux. He had a hearty laugh. That’s not very compelling . . . or is it? I might have referenced his Torah portion, Noah, and how God chose to save Noah, his family and two of every animal so that he could start humanity over again. Why didn’t God choose to save Simon? What impact would Simon have had on the world? What would his family been called upon to do?

I close my eyes and try to imagine him standing before the congregation in his new talit (prayer shawl). Every kid gets one of these. It’s a right of passage. I wonder if he would have been the confident or nervous kid. Would his voice be high or low? Even cuter, would it crack somewhere in between? Would he start laughing at the wrong time like I always did (and still do)?

After Simon died, we created a prayer shawl from his clothes and blanket. The blue stripes are made from his soft teddy bear pajamas. The corners reveals patterns and prints from his comfy outfits. I’m not a material girl. Items are replaceable. This is not.

The top of the talit displays his name and birthday. The other side reveals the prayer Hashkeveinu (hash-kee-vey-noo). It’s not the typical prayer you find there, but it’s my favorite. We heard it every weekend in services after his death, and it appears on his gravestone. The melody and message are captivating. It always bring me to tears. Listen.

We probably would have sang that prayer this weekend at his service. It asks for God to lay us down in peace, and make sure that we rise up again. That didn’t happen. Simon died in his sleep.

I need some of that peace today.

These milestones are really tough. They put a big picture frame around the images of events that won’t be happening. They take you to places that you didn’t know existed. It’s dark and uncomfortable, but it’s part of the process. I’ve learned that the key is to embrace it all, but only stay for a short while, because everything is temporary . . . except for the love a mother has for her son.

Don’t worry about me. In a few days, I’ll be back to the carpools and chaos of daily life. I’ll appreciate my blessings - there are so many. I’ll cherish my brief time with Simon, and dwell on all of the lives that have been saved because of the organization that bears his name - Simon’s Fund. Just not today.

Today, I’m wearing sneakers, walking around New York City with my family, doing my best to create distractions and new memories. If given the opportunity, I would have gone barefoot to his bar mitzvah. I can say that today. Thirteen years later. I wouldn’t have said it back then.

So, I guess the answer to that age old question can be found in an age old proverb. Always go to a party walking in another (wo)man’s shoes.

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