by Nava Waisman
My dad's silver Acura drove smoothly in the pounding rain with both of
us inside, sitting on the chilly black leather of the front two seats.
We were suspiciously driving in the direction of my grandparents' house.
That's strange, I told myself in a concerned manner, noting that I usually
go to my grandparents on Wednesday, and it was Thursday. By then,
I had settled with the fact that people had been cancelling left and right
for my Bat Mitzvah on Saturday due to the coronavirus. The coronavirus
is a mean virus that is shutting down many excitedly awaited events. But
despite all of this madness, I was sure the worst of it was behind me.
The sound of the engine slowing down and then stopping directly in front
of my grandparents' house filled my ears. I looked out the window and
saw the familiar light blue home where much of my Bat Mitzvah planning
had occurred. It was then, reminded of my big day and out of pure hope
nothing new had come up, that I asked my dad, "Is there anything
new on the Bat Mitzvah?"
"Well, let's wait to go inside and then I'll tell you," he said,
anxious to get in the house. Just like that, my heart started beating
vividly and rapidly with nervousness and surprise, what could he possibly
need to tell me inside?
"Please, tell me now." He then gave a deep sigh and explained,
"Alright. We aren't having the luncheon and only close family are
coming to your service. The world around me suddenly froze. I felt
this loss all over me. My heart stopped like a sudden decision, my eyes
watered like the rain outside, my brain was in a million different places
at once. With this, I bawled like I had never before. My mind raced to
all of the blood, sweat and tears that had been put into making March
14th the perfect day. This couldn't be.
My dad and I walked with a cold, unprecedented disappointment on our shoulders
up to the front porch. I greeted my grandma with a wet, teared-filled
After that, I trudged unhappily to my grandparents' room, where my parents
and I sat down on the light green comforter to hash out the unexpected
facts. We cant have gatherings over 50 people they both
seemed to be saying sadly.
I cant believe this is happening I barely screeched
between sobs. It was like in the past week, I had been playing a game
of Jenga. Every time someone had cancelled, a piece of the tower got taken
out and I was doing my best for it not to fall. But now, the piece that
was stabilizing the tower had just been taken out and the whole tower
I spent the rest of the afternoon recalling all of my sessions studying
the Hebrew I had to learn; stopping and playing the recording about a
thousand times until I could get it right. The Wednesday afternoons my
grandma and I spent talking about the cutlery and plates we would have
at the luncheon. All of the other ceremonies people had had without a
noticeable kink. The bottom line is I spent so much time and put so much
effort into this and now none of my family from out of town or friends
could come. There had to be something I could do to smooth out this rudely
enormous bump in the road.
Over sweet potato pie, I convinced my parents to let my friends come to
the service. I figured that, if you're going to read from an ancient text
you have been practicing for over eight months, you might as well have
your cherished friends there. We called all of my friends, asking if they
would still come to be with me on Saturday. After many rings and voicemails,
we got the message to my friends that I would so appreciate them to be
there with me, to rebuild the Jenga tower.
I then realized that maybe this won't be so terrible. My fantastic friends
are coming, we're still having a rocking kids party and my amazing close
family will be with me every step of the way.
My Bat Mitzvah washed in and out like a meaningful and refreshing wave
that rolled over my toes with ease. The emptiness of the sanctuary where
I had spent so much of my childhood practicing my religion, felt wary.
Although, there was a certain feeling of togetherness and overcoming that
filled the room with a fresh hope everyone needed. Something I will always
remember are the smiles on peoples faces, happy they could celebrate before
the gates of civilization closed. I am proud that I was able to spread
a vibration of strength through Judaism. I realized that after everything
that I went through, it was all worth the beautiful ride.