D addy used to take me each week. Together we’d walk, my hand in his, to the shul across the main road.

It was early in the morning, and no one else was up; just me and him. We didn’t go where we told everyone we davened. Instead, we’d go to a place filled with different kinds of people, and a curtain between the men and ladies, which they’d open up when the rabbi would speak.

I sat on my own, my legs dangling, staring at the door as it opened and closed and people walked in. There was the lady with the hat that was bigger than two heads, and the lady who always wore an orange bracelet and bright pink lipstick. I was a big girl, but I still had to work out how to find the place in the siddur. When I had first started going, I didn’t know what to expect, and I’d squint at the lady in front, hoping for help. But when I turned to the page she was on, it wasn’t the song they were singing.

Sometimes, I’d get up during the davening and let my legs carry me to the small library, just off the main hallway. I’d curl up on the floor in the corner and read one of the Big, Thick books with new words that I could use in my stories. Then, at the end of davening, I joined Daddy in the big room at the back, for kiddush.

Some weeks Akiva would come, too. I’d pace up and down the hallway, knowing we’d be late if we kept on waiting, and willing him on with my head. I’d race ahead, and then look behind for Daddy and Akiva, hoping they were hurrying up so they could cross me. But they walked as if they had all the time in the world.

The security guard always smiled at me when I gravely thanked him; and sometimes one of the ladies who knew Mummy would say hello to me. No one else noticed I was there. But I didn’t mind; it was okay this way. Until it all changed.

One week Daddy didn’t wake me up for shul. As soon as I opened my eyes I knew I’d missed the time — the sun was shining right through my curtains.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” I asked, almost accusingly.

“I wasn’t feeling up to it this week,” he said, “maybe next week.”

But next week came, and the same thing happened. And the next week, and the next week. And Daddy never went anymore. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 560)