I don't remember much from my childhood. And that's probably for good reason. But there is one memory that has stuck with me. That memory was the beginning of it all. That memory is the one that reminds me day in and day out that family is the single most important thing in my life.
It was around two in the morning. I was laying in my bed, alone. I was still awake, as I often was that late when I was a child. My mother wasn't home yet. Just as I'm about to fall asleep, my dad walks into my room.
I acted asleep. My dad always got mad at me when I would stay up late, so I grew accustomed to fake stillness and forced, steady breathing. I heard my dad step around for a minute, and then there was no more noise. I just barely opened my right eye and look over at the other bed in my room. My dad was sleeping in it.
Ten minutes later, Seth walked in. Stepping around, ruffling, and then silence. I looked over and saw him in bed with my dad.
Ten minutes later, Avi walked in. Stepping around, ruffling, and then silence. I looked over and didn't see him. Then I looked down. He had constructed a makeshift bed on my floor.
At that point, I stopped caring about what my dad would think about me being awake. I got up and crawled into bed with he and Seth.
There we were. Seth, my father, and I in one tiny bed. Avi on the ground. At that point it was obviously no secret that we were all awake, so we sat there and talked for a little bit. I remember snuggling with my dad. I loved snuggling with him when I was a little kid. I still do.
There we were. In a broken home. Distractions were all around. Tensions were high. But we had each other. We always had each other. We will always have each other.
Family is indubitably the single most important thing in my life. I would take a bullet for anyone of my siblings, because I know they would do the same for me. The reason this memory has stuck with me for so long, the reason it sticks out among the other hazy memories from my childhood is because that night was the night that I knew I would always be secure. That was the night that I discovered that anything I do, any direction I take my life will be supported by an unbreakable foundation.
Mother's Day is weird for me. Most who know me know my situation. I don't have a relationship with my mother. But the thing is, that doesn't mean that I was lacking anything in my childhood.
So many people have taken it upon themselves to look after me. My brothers and sisters have always been there for me. My dad is the greatest man I know. Aunt Shelby was with me every step of the way, serving as an amazing makeshift mother.
But there was one person who I made sure to wish a very special happy Mother's Day to today. I'm not discounting all that the others have done for me, but what my sister, Shifra, has done for me cannot be sufficiently expressed in words. Shifra was my mother, soccer-mom, cook, chauffeur, and emotional backbone. And it seems as though nothing has changed. Whenever I have to say something, but don't feel comfortable saying it to anybody else, I Whatsapp my sister.
Growing up, I had always wanted to be like my big sister. She was so cool. She was popular. She was hip. She had great taste in music. She was everything I wanted to be. I remember peeking under the bottom of her door, trying desperately to see what her and her friends would do on Friday nights. It was always such a mystery, and, her being a big sister, never let me crack that mystery. In Elementary School, she took me to school every morning. It became somewhat of a game to see whether or not she would be generous enough to take me all the way to the front of the school, or if she would drop me off in the back field and make me walk. Looking back, what I find funny about those early morning rides is that she would only take me to the front of the school if it was pouring rain, then she would act like she did me the biggest favor ever. That's just Shifra. She's one of the funniest, wittiest, most easy going people I know. She walks into a room and lights it up.
Mother's Day is a unique day for me. It's strange to think that it makes me feel appreciative of all of those caretakers in my life other than my actual mother. But unique is certainly not a bad thing. This day reminds me that I have the greatest family in the world.
So, I would like to wish a very happy Mother's Day to my big sister, my role model, and one of my best friends.
I love you, Shifra. I can't wait to be with you this summer! Happy (unconventional) Mother's Day.