At the end of last month I took Skater and one of his friends to the Florida Keys for the bar mitzvah of a friend of theirs, we’ll call him Fisherman. A destination bar mitzvah? I would usually think of the destination being Israel, but this was special too: Fisherman’s dad’s family has been vacationing annually in the Keys for many years. The day after the bar mitzvah Fisherman’s dad took some of the boys out for an ocean fishing expedition.
Our families have been friends since Skater and Fisherman were in preschool. They were both, well, bounce-off-the-wall high-energy toddlers. They matched each other jump for jump and giggle for giggle. Their older daughter is a year ahead of Big Girl in school, and listening to her (at age 6) count to 100, by 10′s, in Hebrew, helped DB want to sign Big Girl up for Jewish day school kindergarten.
The service was lovely. It was held in a condo clubroom with a view of the ocean, all the davening was led by family members, and there was a handmade, handpainted-for-the-occasion aron for the borrowed Torah. Since I had transported the school’s class present all the way to the Florida keys, I appointed myself “bima officer” and asked if I could present it to him during the service – for which I had a whole speech prepared in my head about life being like waves and tides and how Fisherman was learning to navigate the waters of life, blah, blah, hanky-worthy blah.
None of that came out of my mouth. What came out was “we love you” “Skater loves you” “we’re so proud of you” and a lot of tears. He’s not even my kid! But every tear and hiccup was sincere: I love this kiddo. He’s bright and funny and so what if he accidentally slammed a door on Skater’s finger in kindergarten. You don’t get many family friends like these guys: his mom and I go to the gym together, we’ve had many Shabbat and holiday and for-no-reason dinners together (wherein I get to feed the grateful dad meat, because his home is vegetarian for the rest of the family), and we’ve watched each other’s dogs on an occasional weekend.
When I went to sit down after drying my bima tears, another friend said, “Way to hold it together, Ramer.” Indeed. Last Shabbat was special, and I gave my drash with dry eyes, but I wouldn’t have traded our trip to Fisherman’s fishing bar mitzvah for anything!