Abba Loves You

Abba is the Hebrew word for father.

Life is full of snapshots, pictures you carry with you in your brain. I have added so many in the last few years…there is one of Amira at her wedding, radiant and so happy. The minute I saw the picture the photographer took, I thought – this is the kind of picture every woman wants at least once in her life. I have a picture of her sitting at her wedding, looking up to the stage, where her very talented husband was singing a beautiful song to her…and the look in their eyes could feed a mother’s heart forever. These images and others would stay with me forever, even if I didn’t have the physical pictures to see.

I have a picture of Shmulik in my mind, standing under the chuppah, the wedding canopy, with his beautiful bride. As with Amira’s husband, Naama comes from the “other” side of a divide I never really knew about till I came to Israel. There are Jews of European descent – Ashkenazim; there are Jews of “Eastern” descent (mostly Spain, Africa, Arab countries) – Sephardim. In America, we are all Jews – who cares where you came from? So Haim and Naama came from that world, enriching our own with each wedding. With the henna, a Sephardi custom equivalent to the Ashkenazi engagement party, but so much more interesting and fun. I have the pictures of them dressed up in Persian costumes…so young and beautiful.

I have a picture – really, I wasn’t aware of the moment when it was happening because it was so naturally a part of my relationship with Lauren – that it took the photographer to show it to me. Her mother and I are walking her to the chuppah, to Elie. And she has her head towards me, I am leaning over either listening or talking, I don’t know. She is holding my hand and her mothers…and we all seem to be smiling. To me, it is a symbol of our relationship and I cherish that picture too.

I have a picture of Yaakov, Elie, Chaim, Shmulik and Davidi all lined up waiting for Lazer to give them a blessing on the Friday night of Davidi’s bar mitzvah. I don’t have the picture because we don’t use cameras on Shabbat, but I will never forget that image – of the five of them in line, according to age – Yaakov the oldest, Davidi the youngest.

And I have a picture of Aliza flying in the air as she jumped from the fifth step up – knowing with the faith only a child can have, that Elie would catch her. I have an image of her sleeping in my arms (or anyone else’s for that matter), with one arm reaching upwards and holding my chin. She was a chin-holder…

I have so many pictures of all my children in my mind. I keep them there, take them out once in a while and smile. Last night, I added another.

Elie and Lauren are battling the first few months of a baby’s life – no sleep, no time, no room. Lauren is one of the most organized people I know – rivaled only by her mother, I think. They plan and execute the most amazing things – you wouldn’t believe the party they just organized for the baby last week.

Michal is 5 weeks old and she is beyond precious. Elie was in school for much of yesterday so Lauren had the baby. He wanted to give her a break in the evening and let her sleep before facing yet another night of broken sleep, so he brought little Michal over here. He was hungry (and so was I), so with his help, I made him those tuna fritters he loves so much. He helped because my arm is getting better, but still not there, so he took over frying and I got to hold the baby and all was right with the world.

The only problem is Michal doesn’t seem to want to burp for me – Elie, on the other hand, offers to teach her regularly. So he was burping her, lifting her up and playing with her as he sat on the couch opposite me. His hands are so big compared to this tiny baby. I watched him hold her, smile and talk to her, “Abba loves you,” he said as he gave her a kiss and that was it – my heart melted yet again.

Elie is an abba – a father…it is an unbelievable concept. He cradles his little daughter and I have to remember – she really is his. For the man who often lacks patience, he seems to be endlessly enthralled with her. I can’t wait for the first time she smiles at him. He has no idea what’s yet to come, how much his heart will soar when she gazes into his eyes and he realizes that he and Lauren are her world. All is right, so long as they love her.

Abba loves you…my husband often said that to our children as he rocked them, held them. I don’t know what it is about language that brings us to these words. To each other, we will say “I love you” but to a child, almost as if we are reminding them, at such a young age, reminding them…and us…that there is something unique in this relationship, we often said, “Ima loves you” and “Abba loves you.” There is something so much more to those words – a promise we make each time we say it, a commitment that will last through eternity, a fact etched in stone. Forever, Michal’s abba loves her.

I took some real pictures, which I can’t post to the Internet, but even if I hadn’t taken them, I’ll never lose the image of Elie holding Michal up to his face, staring into her eyes and telling her, “Abba loves you.”

Shabbat shalom from the sunny, warm, beautiful land of Israel – a land filled with fathers and mothers who love their children, cherish them above all that we have, all that we are.

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