I toss in bed, beset by insomnia, watching the dark night from a slit in the curtains. I can see the stars tonight, shining a light I know is four years old. They are beautiful all the same. I squint and make out the Big Dipper, a soup ladle in the sky. It is comprised of seven stars and each one has a name. Last summer on a camping trip with Mom and Grandma, they rattled off the names in a kind of chant-song that long ago schools bothered teaching. Greek sounding names, at least to me.

The clouds shift and now there is just a handle suspended in heaven.

I hear the front door opening and someone come into the house.

Aunt Debbie!

Voices, Mom’s and hers. I strain to make them out. But they become muted, they’ve probably settled themselves on the living room couches. With tea.

Oh my! How did it go?

It’s not the first time Aunt Debbie’s gone out, no sirree, my aunt’s been in this parshah for a long while. But a few weeks ago, she let slip that she hasn’t seen anyone in a year and a half.

And now, Aunt Debbie is going out with a young man from here, from the place my high-flying city-girl aunt, endearingly calls “country.”

I have a good feeling about this, somewhere deep down. Could things be changing for Aunt Debbie in the most wonderful way?

I’m not about to go downstairs to find out — and well, she wouldn’t use a 14-year-old, however bright, as a sounding board — but I’m too wound up to sleep. I find myself pulling open the top drawer and reaching for my therapy journal.

I flick on the lamp and read, pondering about changes, wonderful ones, and sad ones. And realizing that change, even massive, sweeping change, can happen in a blink. Like it happened with Daddy…

Dear Daddy,

We’ve gone to Grandma and Grandpa before for Pesach, but never without you. We’re cruising along the highway, miles flying beneath the tires — not only are you not with us for Pesach, we are driving ever farther away from you. As the city streets get busier and we stop at a light, something I hadn’t considered before creeps in: Where will you be for Pesach?

We come back and meet you at Chai-Thai again, like nothing’s happened, like it isn’t crazy to spend Yom Tov away from you. Like it isn’t crazy that our life flows along, a river journey you are not part of, save for the weekly stepping stones of our time at Chai-Thai for dinner.

You bring along a surprise. A harp.

“I have a new member in my band, a harpist,” you say. “He’s taught me to play this splendid thing. And I want to teach you a little too.”

You’ve chosen a good time. Five o’clock in the afternoon is not quite business-is-booming time in an upscale restaurant.

The instrument is grand. It’s almost as tall as I am, and much wider. It’s all shiny wood and taut strings, and I run my fingers over it, the random swish of movement sounding pleasing already.

“It’s a very forgiving instrument for beginners,” you say. “Just about anything sounds beautiful on a harp.”

You pluck out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to prove the point. The nursery rhyme is transformed, soft, echoing notes rising joyfully from the harp.

You show me how to tilt the body of the harp between my legs, and lean it onto my right shoulder. You explain that the harp doesn’t have to be straight in front of me, I can turn it sideways a bit to see the strings, so I can reach the middle ones easily. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 683)