Sometimes it’s personal.
The Sunday Series (21): In Full Bloom, Again
The focus of this series, real stories, your stories is to provide perspective on life, through others who are showing us the way with their courage, hope and inspiration. My daughters do this every day by their very existence, because they have given me life’s most precious gift, the ability to experience unconditional love from the moment they arrived. Every kiss good morning, every hug good night, is the most simple reinforcement of a love which is truly beyond words.
They also teach me. And one year ago today, my oldest, Sophie, taught me one of my most important lessons, one so strong, it provided me not only the final inspiration but also the signature line for my book: “speak from the heart and everyone who has one will buy in.”
On Saturday, March 23rd 2013, Sophie demonstrated to more than 200 people in attendance, the meaning of that sentence. Men, women, children… most sitting there listening with tears in their eyes listening to my daughter, who that day, the day of her Bat Mitzvah, truly did step into another stage of life by showing maturity and deep emotion many will long remember and I won’t ever forget. That evening, in a speech she had crafted just days before, and I had never heard, she gratefully thanked nearly all of her close family and friends, those she believed in her heart, helped her get to this point in her life. It was so powerful and moving for her that when she got to the part about her grandfather, the deepest sense of loss in her young life, she needed the assistance of her tutor to move through it.
I am using this day, this Sunday, one year later to recap with a few links. At the time this blog, launched just a few months prior, was still in its infancy, and I took the opportunity to write down my own feelings about what was happening in our lives and what what turned into a trilogy of blogs that long weekend. It didn’t start out that way, but progressed into such in my mind and my heart, so I went with it. The first I titled, “The (Our) Rose”, the second, “In Full Bloom”, the third, “Don’t Stop Believing”.
Below I am providing the links to the first and the third blogs. I respect your time and your own existence, so if you choose to click on those and read them, wonderful, if not, that’s fine too. I believe they provide perspective on the story of that weekend, however, the second blog, “In Full Bloom”, stands on its own because it was the centerpiece of the experience. The event which touched so many lives and stands today, for me, as one of the most inspirational moments of these past twelve months.
The first blog, The (Our) Rose: (https://markbrodinsky.com/2013/03/23/the-our-rose-its-just-about-life/)
The third blog, Don’t Stop Believing: (https://markbrodinsky.com/2013/03/26/dont-stop-believing-its-just-about-life/)
And, the second: In Full Bloom, which I am re-posting below…
There was barely a dry eye in the room when Sophie Rose finished her thank you speech Saturday night. She had touched people’s hearts in a way that will long be remembered. There were hearts overflowing with joy and love, as she put an exclamation point on one of the most special events of our lives, and certainly of hers.
Sophie nailed it, without really even trying, because she owned it. Our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah ceremony was just that, her Bat Mitzvah ceremony. After her Torah portion and an explanation of what it all meant, she shared feelings that lay deep in her heart, about those who helped her make it this far in her life. At the ripe old age of 13, my girl connected to this moment in time like I have seen few do. Granted, I am her father, but from the testimonials I have received all day from other people who were sitting in the same room as I, Sophie connected with them too. She was simply remarkable. I watched her conduct herself with poise, grace and then in an instant, tears of appreciation, gratitude and love for those closest to her and for those who had been so close, but are no longer in this world, living only in her memory and in her heart.
She broke down, but then recovered and broke through to every heart in that room. There’s no way I can transcribe all the powerful words she said in those minutes, they were so meaningful and mature for someone who on certain days, I still view as so young, or maybe it’s just in my mind’s eye… wishing she was.
She had words of gratitude for so many, her tutor, her aunts and uncle, our neighbors, (who we consider our other family), her grandparents, cousins, myself, her mother Debbie and her sister, Emily. But maybe the most powerful words were the ones she wrote, but felt so strongly in the depths of her heart, she was unable to say out loud. Her tutor Lucia stepped up and stood by her side, to read what Sophie had written about her grandfather, her Poppy, who left us too soon, when Sophie was only nine years old:
“Poppy, here I am. It’s my big day. The night I wrote this, I came downstairs crying to my Mom about how I didn’t remember you enough. I remember you cooking us eggs, lox and onions in the morning. I remember the feeling of your prickly beard. I remember you sitting by the ocean while we collected seashells. But I think the only thing I need to remember is how much you loved us, and still do.”
From a young heart still stinging from the pain of loss for one she loved so much. Sophie recovered and was able to continue on to talk about her little sister: “Emily, I think you are so beautiful and the most energetic person I’ve ever met and you’re always smiling. You inspire me to look on the bright side of even the worst situations. I love you.”
To me: “Daddy, I think you are the most amazing man I have ever met, you’re so determined and hard-working and you are the person who taught me to never give up, which I think is the best thing a person could learn. I love you.”
To Debbie: “Mommy, I have no clue what I would do without you. You help me through every possible problem I could ever have. Even though you nose your way into every dramatic issue I have, you always help me out in the end. You are the strongest person I have ever met, knowing what you have been through. Thank you for working your butt off so I could have the best day of my life. I love you.”
“Last but not least I’d like to thank Adonai (God). I don’t know how it worked out, but you made me an amazing life. I am so blessed with all of these amazing people. Thank you for being the one thing that can never leave my heart. Amen.”
It was powerful and heartfelt and I held back my emotions the whole time, for fear of Sophie Rose looking down at me in the front row and seeing tears streaming down my face, only making it tougher for her. The tears are here now, hard to write and then read Sophie’s words without it happening. But there’s one thing I need to correct about what she said about Debbie and I. There’s a line I omitted from Sophie’s speech about us: “I think I have the best parents ever and I’d like to thank them for everything.”
The problem is my girl has got it all backward. It’s we, who are grateful to her, for becoming the person she is today. Just maybe we are doing something right along the way. These miracles don’t come with manuals, and it’s Sophie who has to take what she learns, and make it her own. From what I saw last night, she’s on her way.
I’ve been talking about it for months now. Gratitude, appreciation and love. It’s the hat trick and my beautiful daughter proved it, just ask anyone who was scrambling to find a tissue as she spoke, or sniffling their way through much of her ceremony. When you speak from the heart, everyone who has one, is all in.
I will leave you with this. Driving home this afternoon after a trip to the mall, the title of a song popped up on the screen of our satellite radio. It was a good one, a tune from a legend, Elton John. Before the lyrics began Debbie told Sophie to listen and to pay attention to the words and think about her ceremony.
The song? Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
Mark Brodinsky, Author
It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
#1 Amazon Best-Seller
To get e-mails about new posts on this blog, click the Follow button at the top or bottom of your screen.
For feedback, to share a story idea, or if you are looking for free-lance writing assistance, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.