I' ve taken to running lately. There’s a huge field at the end of our street that hugs the nearby woods. I don’t venture into the woods because the sun’s rays hardly penetrate the foliage, but the field’s sunny and airy as ever. Last week at dinner Mom was talking about a new psychology study.

“Researchers have found that even a single session of exercise can instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. So, something as simple as running can help to cure depression. Imagine that,” she exclaimed, “they’re calling it ‘runner’s high’ “!

I kick up the dust, pummeling the air in front of me with my fists, and breathe, breathe, breathe.

And then she suggested yesterday that I get out for some air, and innocently added, “Maybe a run” in as light a tone as possible.

So my mother thinks I’m depressed. And she’s not just anyone. She’s a therapist. And she sees depressed people up close.

Aw, c’mon, you don’t have to be depressed to need a mood lift.

The wind blows against my face and I open my eyes wide against it, so that they are fresh, teary, alive. I must’ve run around the perimeter of the field five times. I’m not really keeping count; it’s just one leg in front of the other and the world is mine.

Runner’s high is right.

After a while I fall onto the grass, panting and grinning. I sit on the grass and let my breathing calm. My watch says it’s three o’clock. Choir practice? Wasn’t it at three on Sunday? I’m not sure. What did Tehilla say? I can’t recall, but I remember how she said it. In a voice that brooked no argument.

It’s not worth being late, I tell myself, if I don’t show up at all she probably won’t notice. And besides, I’m in the process of lifting my mood. I get to my feet and sprint around the field again, as if to prove the point to the birds.

Mom is sorting the mail from Shabbos when I get home.

“That’s for Rafi,” she says, laying a thick envelope aside.

“Rafi? Since when does he get mail?”

“It’s an application form for a yeshivah out of town. There should be more coming. He shouldn’t really be filling them out himself, but you know with your father...”

I hate when she says your father. It’s formal and archaic, and it feels so distant.

It is distant, Naomi. He is.

But what she’s saying finally registers. Rafi’s leaving town. “What? When’s he going? How come I didn’t know?”

“You don’t?”

No, this can’t be happening. Not now… (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 669)