Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Family Fiction: Birthday Wishes

Faigy Schonfeld

Okay, so a birthday party would be nice. But, Miriam, you’re a big girl now. It’s not like nobody appreciates you nowadays

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

 Mishpacha image


T he white lights of the hospital beam in the distance and Miriam smiles. She slows the car, looking for a space to wedge in her Sienna. Beyond those lights and bricks and mortar is a softly lit world where new mothers weep with joy and itty-bitty things yawn and stretch and kick little chicken feet.

At last, a parking spot. Miriam backs in. With clammy fingers, she smoothes her wavy wig out of her eyes and tenderly gathers her packages — a thermos of chicken soup with vegetables, containers of rice and crispy schnitzel, blueberries and cubed mango, a box of chocolate, two magazines, and a creamy velour onesie nestled in a little carton. Three balloons dance in the wind, flashing pictures of bottles and booties. She clicks the car locked and strides in the direction of the lights. A new baby. Her Shira, another baby, a mother of two...

She blinks in the stark brightness of the lobby, tastes antiseptic mingled with strong brew, and she coughs. The receptionist cups a yawn in his thick hands and Miriam pities him.

“Visiting hours are over, ma’am.”

Miriam indicates her bags. “Please, sir, my daughter just gave birth and I’ve brought her something to eat.”

The receptionist eyes her bags warily, yawns again, and waves her through. Ding. Fourth floor.

Immediately, the smell of... of newborn. High ceilings gently lit, crackling whimpers from the nursery, squeaking of bassinets wheeled down the hall. She licks her lips and a tingle steals across her heart. Her daughter has given birth and she is here, to help her, hold her, bearing nourishment and love.

“Ma, you’re fast!”

Miriam turns. Shira reaches over to hug her. Miriam holds her tight and swallows tears. “Shira, mazel tov. What are you doing here, running around?”

Shira giggles, her face lined with exhaustion and lit with deepest joy. “I feel wonderful, baruch Hashem.” She peers into her mother’s bags. “I’m starving. I was just going to check on the baby. You must see him, Ma, he has that sharp nose and boxy chin, he’s a total Goldman boy!”

“Oh, my goodness,” Miriam laughs as they turn together toward the nursery. “Well, I suppose it’s their turn now. Aidy looks just like you.”

“Right, how’s Aidy doing? I hope it’s not too much for you, with Aidy and all the kids and well, it’s a boy, which means a shalom zachar and—”

“—and a vach-nacht and a bris.” Miriam nods, suddenly giddy. “Aidy’s adorable, the girls were putting her to bed when I left. And just as soon as we get you fed, I’ll be on to simchah planning.” Shira glows and something sighs in Miriam’s chest, full and content.

Even though it’s been ten children and 24 years of giving, it still feels good. Her sisters Bina and Esther and Rikki ask her for recipes and advice, and Ma gloats over her housekeeping skills. Even after 24 years, they still marvel at her, the precious porcelain baby who never could do much other than charm them all. Today, she gives. She dispenses advice and wisdom and kisses and so much love. And it feels good. Very, very good.

Related Stories

Poem of Life

Rivka Streicher

Eye contact is the least of her problems. She walks into my home, her whole body tilted away from me...

Watch Out: Birthday Ahead

Abby Delouya

Your birthday can trigger a lot more than a party. Especially when approaching a new decade, birthda...

Whispers: Chapter 15

Shira Hart

Only time would tell if I was crazy or a genius for choosing to do this surgery

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity