I wanted to upload the very fun video of this special surprise for ds13, and waited until dd17 was available since I wanted her help with editing it before posting. Unfortunately, tonight she told me when she loaded the video along with all of the pictures from the bar mitzva onto her computer, there was a snafu and everything was deleted. This really feels like a loss to me (and dd’s even more upset about it than me); the video captured a very special memory, and the pictures from the bar mitzva were the first ones of our family all together for over a year and a half which I had also looked forward to sharing here. But I can still verbally describe the surprise to you!
Ds13 has been best friends with a certain boy since he was five years old. It was very hard for him to say goodbye when we left America, and as a final parting comment to ds, his friend said with a big smile, “See you in a few months at the bar mitzva!” Little did I know that this twelve year old really meant it.
He got a job every day after school and started saving all the money he earned towards his ticket. He earned a substantial amount, and family members contributed the rest, knowing about his relationship with ds. He arrived in Israel on Thursday, then was picked up from the airport by a relative. Later in the afternoon, he traveled by bus from Jerusalem to here with the daughter of a very good friend of mine who is studying here for the year, who was also coming for the bar mitzva.
(By the way, this arrangement was made totally without my involvement or mentioning any names or details to either of the parties involved, which was wild. This young lady mentioned her plans for the weekend to the daughter of a friend of ds13’s best friend’s grandmother – or something like that – and someone along the line figured out that the twelve year old boy coming from the US was going to the same bar mitzva as this girl, so they arranged for him to meet her so he wouldn’t have to travel alone. The statistical likelihood of this connection being made in the few hours after his arrival is very small, but it just goes to show what a small country this is!)
So ds’s friend called to ask me what the scenario for the surprise would be, and I told him it was his surprise, and he should tell me what he wanted to do. We worked out that dd17 and ds13 would meet the bus a few minutes after it arrived, giving his friend a chance to hide and then trail them back to our house. Then he would knock at the door, I’d have ds answer it, and voila – the surprise!
But then I thought, what if his friend lost sight of them? I didn’t want him to get lost on the way! So I slightly rearranged it so that dd15 would leave a few minutes early, meet the friend, and then they’d wait together a few minutes for the the other two kids to meet the seminary girl. And, I thought, if ds answered the door, none of the rest of us would be able to see his reaction. So I’d have to have his friend come into the main living area where we’d all see the reunion.
I asked him to call when he arrived so I could send dd15 to meet him, and he did. I sent everyone out as planned, staggering it so ds13 wouldn’t see dd15 going out, but when they got to the bus stop, no one was there! They finally came home without our guests; a short time later our guests called, it turns out they’d gotten off a stop early and gone into the local mall.
So we sent everyone out again. Dd17 and ds13 returned with the suitcase of both guests (ds thinking they both belonged to the girl – I told him he should go along to help bring everything), and then a few minutes later, there was a muffled knock at the door. I answered it, and there was his friend! I motioned him to come in, and went back to the living room without giving any indication of anything. Ds13 was on the couch looking at a magazine, not having heard the light tapping at the door.
His friend waited a couple of minutes while peering out at ds from around the wall of the entrance hallway, suddenly dashed toward him on the couch, jumping with a big plop next to him with his arm around his shoulders. Ds13 got a slightly annoyed look, as if, ‘which of my little siblings is pestering me now?’, and looked up to tell whoever it was to stop. And then he looked right into his best friend’s face! He was so shocked that he looked almost dazed, then gave him a big hug while he kept repeating, “Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?”
It was really beautiful; in the video you could see ds18 in the background watching with a big smile, and my mom smiling on the sidelines, but all of us watching had big smiles. The older girls knew about the surprise for a while, and ds18 learned about it when they all went out to meet the bus. Watching this video afterwards, I got very choked up, and so did my mom. Dd17, who videoed their meeting,without knowing what was going to happen, managed to catch all of it from the beginning to end, and you could really feel the emotion of it all, even without sound.
I’ll share more about the bar mitzva in my next post, but to say it enhanced the occasion for ds13 would be minimize the experience. My older kids said that it’s strange that while so much has changed and we’re living in Israel now, somehow it seems perfectly normal to see the two of them together here – it’s just the same as always, but in a different country!
This morning they left to spend a few days in Jerusalem together – they gave us a basic itinerary of what they want to do, but I’m sure that wherever they go, they’ll have an amazing time together!