Monday, June 17, 2013

Did our kid just become an adult?

It was a big weekend for our little man, as Noah celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. In the Jewish tradition, it's the milestone where you, quite literally, are recognized as a true adult. While we're not about to turf our almost-13-year-old into the big bad world so that he can earn his keep, we are pretty thrilled that he's already become a remarkable young man in his own right, and that he so ably stepped up to the plate and made the experience his own this weekend, surrounded by friends and family who adore him.

I'm generally not one for speeches, but I shared some thoughts in shul (synagogue) on Saturday, and wanted to share them here, as well. Hope you enjoy:

Thank you all for being here. Looking around the room, surrounded by friends and family who’ve come here from as close as around the corner and as far as Toronto, Montreal, Florida, it’s easy to see how blessed we are. We have the life we have in this amazing place called London thanks to the support of friends who have become family to us since the day we moved here. Thank you for opening your homes to us and our friends and family, and for always being such an integral part of our lives.

I'd like to share with you a brief peek into a typical morning in the life of Noah Mayer Gideon Levy.

The scene: our darkened bedroom. It's early. Very early. The sun isn't yet up, and even the birds outside are quiet. The dog is snoring away by my feet. I may or may not have been snoring, as well.

The door opens ever so gently, and soft feet pitter patter into the room. A slight shadow passes over the bed as little man, awoken from his slumber, reaches out for a hug from his mom.

He then saunters over to my side of the bed, and I get a hug, too. Just because. The dog is next, softened words filling a darkened room.

It doesn’t take long before our rescued, less-than-perfectly-trained dog is following our son downstairs. Noah feeds him, walks him, sits down with him in the middle of an otherwise empty kitchen floor, gives him his needle and plays with him until the rest of the house starts to stir. Pretty soon, the house is alive, and Noah’s helping Debbie load the car and head off to school.

An average day. But not an average kid. Because this is your every day. No one asks you to do any of this. You simply know it needs to get done. From the moment you wake up, you’re looking out for others. If someone in your group forgets lunch, you’re the one who shares. If someone needs a little extra help in class or out of class, you’re the one who jumps in. You always manage to quietly find opportunities – and people – that need just a little extra something.

You do your homework without complaint. You succeed in school and you’re a blur on the soccer field. Whatever you’re doing, you do it well – there’s no half-way with you; you’re always all-in.

You still hold your mom’s hand. You still hold mine. For how much longer, we don’t know, but the fact that you still do makes our hearts melt just a little every time you reach out.

None of this dropped from the sky, though. You came by it honestly. You’ve been absorbing all this goodness from your mom pretty much forever, and she, in turn, absorbed it from her parents.

Bubby Zelda, of blessed memory, wanted so much to be here today. Even had her outfit picked out. Her lessons, today and every day, live on in you, every time you feed the dog, look out for a friend, help someone in the community. She made the world’s best green jello, but it wasn’t the jello that mattered. It was the fact that she knew how much you loved it, made sure it was ready and waiting for you, Zach and Dahlia when you got there.

You make green jello for us.

Likewise, Zaidy Arthur, also of blessed memory, lives on in you. In the way you look out for others before yourself, in the way you surround yourself with your friends, immerse yourself in their world, laugh with them and squeeze the joy out of even the most everyday moments. His Zaidy Shows were legendary, but it’s how you took them and made them your own that stands out for me. When visiting him in the hospital, you’d put on the gown, gloves and mask, plop a get well card onto his bed and then read him what you wrote. You made the moment your own, let him know that you could make him smile just as much as he had done for you.

So many words come to mind when we think of you. Don’t worry: they’re all good. You are empathetic, sweet, kind. You’re driven and focused. You’re a remarkably good – most of the time – little brother to Zach and Dahlia. You’re a great friend, the kind of kid parents love to have over because they know they never need to worry about you. You’re a gutteh neshumeh, a good soul.

There are so many things we want to say to you as you make this transition from childhood to adulthood (and, no, you can’t have the car just yet.) But I’d like to share this with you, from Norman Vincent Peale, because I think it captures the spirit of who you are:

“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget yourself, and think of others.”

Mazel tov, mazel tov, mazel tov. We couldn’t be more proud of you, and we know how lucky we are to be on this remarkable journey with you.

Your turn: Got any wishes or words of advice for Noah?


Kalei's Best Friend said...

Carmi, you sure know how to start the water works... Your speech is full of pride, love and yet bittersweet because some of the key people in your lives weren't physically there...My advice for Noah is that he pass on what he has learned to his kids- even tho, I know he would do it w/out coaching..My wish for him is that he never stop giving/learning- again, I know he will do this w/out prompting.. I wish for him lots of smiles and good memories and many years. Mazel tov!

lissa said...

Wow, nothing like starting a Monday with a smile through tears. You hit all the right notes but then again, you have great material to work with. Mazel tov to you all!!!!

21 Wits said...

I couldn't possibly say anything more (mostly because my tears won't let me type) and I'll be dreaming of perfect green Jello all day long now too. Just God Bless you all and many, many more happy days of old and new memories to pave your way in this glorious thing called, life. Shine on!

Hilary said...

Mazel Tov to you and yours. You sure have a fine young man there. No surprise.. he has fine parents.

Thumper said...

Just...don't ever try to change, Noah. It sounds like you have the whole Being Kind thing down pat, and really, that's one of the most important things...

And Congrats, Carmi & Debbie...he didn't become this person by accident...

Anonymous said...

Carmi -

Mazel Tov to you and Debbie for creating a trio of amazing kids - none of whom I've met, but all of whom I feel I know in some fashion.

and Mazel Tov to young Noah, as well, who seems to embody the best of both of you.

Unrelated: I know the "messiness" theme was a while ago, but I've been in a weird space, so I only participated today. Do I get a bye for being out of the country?

Alexia said...

Yes, you made my eyes fill. But you also made my heart full: of appreciation for sharing your thoughts with us, of thankfulness that people like you and Debbie and your wonderful kids are out there, shining lights in a bad-news world. How lucky you both are to have them, and how lucky they are to have you.

Bless you.