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Simply Special

He stands before the basketball hoop, gazing up at the perfect blue sky.

His siblings are full of laughter and cheerful shouts as they toss their basketballs heavenward.

I look at the scene and admire their coordination, strength, perfected moves and mobility.

Chaim Boruch is still standing in midst of the “game,” enjoying the team energy of sweat, spirit and high fives.

His hands are empty, limp by his sides.

His head is tilted, possibly deep in thought.

My heart tightens as I notice the lump in my throat.

Questions fill my mind . . .

Is he feeling left out? Is he feeling sad? Frustrated?

Is he longing for a day just to “be the same”?

Tears fill my eyes, and I wonder about everything I see before me.

I don’t have more than three seconds to contemplate any deeper, because there it is.

Beautiful and magnificent.

Incredible and touching.

Spontaneous and planned.

All at the same time.

His little brother shouts out: “Hey, Chaim Boruch, do you want to make a basket?”

And his face lights up as he thrusts his clumsy arms forward to take the ball.

It seems like he was just handed a trophy by the look on his face, at which point my heart melts.

I see Chaim Boruch in slow motion, as he tries to bounce up on his feet, holding the ball tight.

The basketball hoop is 10 feet tall, and it’s a given that he won’t actually make it in.

But there he is. The star of the team, the one they are cheering for.

It’s his moment, in whichever way it comes.

He raises his hands above his head.

His weak fingers drop the ball forward in a magnificent attempt to reach that hoop.

And the crowd goes wild.

Really. It does.

From the 18-month-old standing barefoot, clapping his chubby little hands, to the 18-year-old who pats his back with enthusiasm and delight.

His eight siblings are proud . . . and so am I.

Not just because of Chaim Boruch’s pure spirit, but because of his siblings’ pure spirit.

Their love is so deep, so strong and so resilient.

Their days are not easy with a special-needs brother.

Trips get cut short, outings end in tears.

Feelings get hurt, and the responsibility is heavy.

They worry, they cry, they sit on my bed and tell me about their dreams.

Their dreams of Chaim Boruch talking . . . in the middle of their peaceful night’s sleep.

This is what “special siblings” dream of.

We laugh and we cry.

And we are a team.

When we lose and when we win.

And the players at the game today . . .

are the best players I know.

Each of them won my heart in every way.

Chana is a proud wife and mother living in Mill Valley, California. She is inspired by the colors and textures of everyday life, and loves sharing her creative ideas with her community. Chana writes DIY projects, crafts and recipes celebrating her Jewish life and shlichus on her blog Chana’s Art Room, and is the co-director of Chabad of Mill Valley with her husband, Rabbi Hillel Scop. To read more about Chaim Boruch, and Chana’s journey, take a look at her personal special-needs blog, Life of Blessing.

Mint chocolate-chip ice cream.

It’s been so many years.

I had no idea a little taste could take me back in time.

It was a relaxing Shabbat afternoon, soaking up the sunshine on comfy outdoorIt's been so many years cushions.

The sound of laughter from the kids filled the fresh air, and shadows of bouncy balls and sand toys danced along the yard.

I was lost in thought, taking pleasure in the moment in time.

My husband came outside to join me, while offering to bring me a scoop of ice cream in a cone.

I’m never one to decline such a kind and sweet offer, and before I knew it, I’m handed a most delicious treat.

A few moments later, my husband returned with his own ice cream cone in hand, yet unlike my coffee flavor, he chose creamy cool mint ice cream with specks of chocolate chips scattered about.

Being that our ice cream is shipped once a year from Los Angeles—a seven-hour drive away—we seldom indulge in a variety of flavors and opt for the most loved: chocolate, vanilla and coffee.

This year, for the first time, we ordered a small pint of mint chocolate chip. You know . . . to mix things up a bit.

Well, it only took a millisecond for me to smell the fresh scent of mint ice cream to be instantly transported in time to the carefree childhood days of family trips to the beach, followed by a quick stop to pick up ice cream on the way home.

For me, it was always coffee flavor and for my father (of blessed memory), mint chocolate chip. My mother and siblings would choose their favorites, but on this day, it would only be my father’s that I would remember.

Inevitably these precious moments in time would turn to mere memories, which on this day I would relive. And relive, I did.

Chaim Boruch sat snuggled by my side, and the chatter of the kids and laughter took a backstage appearance.

Clearly, I was not present.

My eyes clouded with tears, and I leaned in to inhale memories.

Before my husband could even indulge in his ice cream cone, we switched flavors. I took one little lick. I just had to.

My taste buds took me back and away, far away, to the very being of my father . . . his smile, laughter, love and passions in life.

And there they were. Those hot stingy tears because that little taste of my father was the epitome of heartbreak and hurt, pain and sadness. And longing.

Chaim Boruch snuggled closer, and I only realized then that his little hand was resting on my lap, almost trying to shelter me from emotions that ran so deep.

I looked into his soft sparkly eyes and wondered what indeed he understood from all of what transpired in my heart, which must have taken up not more than three minutes in actual time.

And then I realized, he doesn’t need to understand. No one does.

It’s OK to feel for someone without understanding because when love runs so deep, even the inability to understand can be overpowered by affection.

Again, my child taught me something so incredible.

If you need to cry over spilled milk, or mint chocolate-chip ice cream, then cry.

IfIf you need to cry over spilled milk, then cry you need to inhale the scent of childhood and the longing for someone you love, then breathe in deep.

If you need to go back in time and taste the heartbreak, then taste it.

Feel. Be passionate. Be affectionate.

Love without trying to understand.

Love without trying to remedy.

Love without trying to take the hurt away.

As King Solomon writes, “There is a time for everything under the sun.”

A time to hurt.

A time to heal.

A time to listen to the messages taught by special souls that illuminate the world.

Chana is a proud wife and mother living in Mill Valley, California. She is inspired by the colors and textures of everyday life, and loves sharing her creative ideas with her community. Chana writes DIY projects, crafts and recipes celebrating her Jewish life and shlichus on her blog Chana’s Art Room, and is the co-director of Chabad of Mill Valley with her husband, Rabbi Hillel Scop. To read more about Chaim Boruch, and Chana’s journey, take a look at her personal special-needs blog, Life of Blessing.

I must admit that I do love jewelry. I can linger next to any display case, admiring and often trying on pieces that glitter and shine. I have some favorite designers that are incredibly creative in their gemstone arrangement. Jewelry-making is truly a fine art.

I also love another kind of jewelry which I cherishI find it meaningful to adorn myself with strands of affection most. You will find these pieces scattered throughout my house, many of which are in my jewelry box, on my bedside table drawer, on my desk and even in my purse.

It’s the beaded necklaces matched with random hues and alphabet beads. It’s the yarn and twine that lay flat and clumsily around my wrist, sometimes catching on sharp corners. It’s the creative mixture of macaroni elbows painted in pink and blue, and the now-stale Cheerios that combine to form unique patterns, adorning me with a style like no other.

I even own a crown. A crown made for a princess or queen. Made of the finest cardboard, stroked with a painter’s brush dipped in brilliant color, fastened by the sturdiest metal staple of the century. I have made supper and tossed laundry in the dryer wearing this crown. I have also saved my crown from mishaps, and the toll of wear and tear on the most delicate of papers.

I find it meaningful to adorn myself with strands of love and affection, beautifully made by the small, pudgy hands of my children. Each gift I receive, accompanied by a smothering of hugs and kisses, makes my life so unbelievably incredible, casting upon me a warmth and glow that no crown of the finest gold and silver could ever accomplish. These jewels of a lifetime dangle from my neck.

And then, that very moment occurred when I wasn’t looking. And that is what mothers do at times; we don’t look, we don’t internalize, we do the best we can at a given moment because that is what we can do best. It sort of protects our fragile heart at times.

The school bus arrived, and I helped Chaim Boruch descend the steps carefully. We waited for the bus to pull away, keeping to our homecoming routine. We walked hand in hand, and I asked him about his day, truly wondering if I would ever know.

We unpacked his backpack together like we always do, Chaim Boruch looking for his iPad as I searched for clues about his day. He rummaged around rather clumsily as I wondered some more about what he was looking for.

He pulled out a little box from his backpack, stuffed with some very crinkled tissue paper. He smiled, and almost seemed a bit shy and embarrassed, like he wasn’t sure what to “say.”

I asked him if he made a project in school. He nodded “yes” and sort of thrust the box in my hands without any grace at all, but with one magnificent smile.

My world stopped. I didn’t even hear the pitter-patter of his baby brother heading towards us. I carefully opened up his gift and tears filled my eyes.

I cannot use words to adequately describe how long IMy world stopped waited for this moment, but trust me when I say it seemed like a lifetime.

I gently unraveled the well-packed tissue paper and lifted out a pale yellow piece of yarn with a ceramic pink rose bead on it. I remembered to exhale as I gave my son the tightest hug while gently placing this necklace of love over my head. I beamed, ecstatic and filled with emotion.

Because, Chaim Boruch.

The jewel of your special soul—the craftsmanship of your weak hands—is the most brilliant gemstone that I will ever own.

A symbol of love, affection and the miraculous journey of raising a mother, blessed with a special-needs son.

Chana is a proud wife and mother living in Mill Valley, California. She is inspired by the colors and textures of everyday life, and loves sharing her creative ideas with her community. Chana writes DIY projects, crafts and recipes celebrating her Jewish life and shlichus on her blog Chana’s Art Room, and is the co-director of Chabad of Mill Valley with her husband, Rabbi Hillel Scop. To read more about Chaim Boruch, and Chana’s journey, take a look at her personal special-needs blog, Life of Blessing.
Chana Scop shares her experiences parenting a child with special needs.
Chana ScopChana is a proud wife and mother living in Mill Valley, California. She is inspired by the colors and textures of everyday life, and loves sharing her creative ideas with her community. Chana writes DIY projects, crafts and recipes celebrating her Jewish life and shlichus on her blog Chana’s Art Room, and is the co-director of Chabad of Mill Valley with her husband, Rabbi Hillel Scop. She also writes about a mother’s journey of raising a special-needs son on her other blog, Life of Blessing. She welcomes you to be a part of her creative and touching journey.