It’s 3:49AM.

I am awake. I cannot sleep. My mind is racing. My heart is bursting. It bursts not from sorrow or pain, but from a fullness of joy, and a tinge of sadness at parting.

Tomorrow, you both leave.

In the last few weeks, you’ve both come back into my life. It’s not like you ever really left. You were always so close to my heart. You always will be. But the physical distance was between us.

I didn’t see you. I wasn’t a part of the many moments of your life. I couldn’t watch you rising in the morning or attend to the numerous activities of your day. We spoke often, but not often enough.

My heart is so full. So full that it aches

You are independent, far away, learning and growing, developing a life of your own. So far apart from me.

But the last few weeks, you were home. I’ve watched you both carefully. You have both grown as such different individuals, just like you always were, and I celebrate your uniqueness.

My heart is so full. So full that it aches.

One day, you will understand it. But not for a little while. Not until you, too, become a parent.

My nineteen year old daughter.

We picked you up from the airport, after an international flight on your break from seminary. I watched you walk with such a confidence, a surety in the direction you want to lead your life. You exude a calmness, an optimism in the dreams of your tomorrow.

Where has the young, hesitant little girl disappeared—the one who timidly clung to my arm and cautiously hid behind my gathered skirt?

She has become a woman. A woman full of sensitivity, full of devotion to her Creator, full of knowledge and idealism that is ready to be implemented in practice.

You’ve learned so much. You quote sources at the tip of your tongue. You speak, write and teach so eloquently and effortlessly, with fervor and true conviction. Your diligent years of studies have paid off.

Where is the little girl who used to sit next to me asking for help with her studies? Where is the shy girl who was loathe of strangers? She has grown into a woman, who now knows more than me.

I watch you learn and pray. With such devotion. Such earnestness. And as I watch you, I too pray. I ask that all the dreams of your heart, soul and mind be fulfilled. You want such good. You carry such absolute, unbridled power.

Where has the little girl gone, the little girl who I made practice her reading so painstakingly? You have developed into a woman, who connects with her Creator more intensely than me.

You insist on helping with the cleaning, cooking and tending to your younger siblings. You stay up late at night, much past my own bedtime. When my eye lids are drooping from fatigue, you continue working, accomplishing, achieving and doing. Your sparkling eyes communicate with me even more effectively than words could ever share.

Where has the little girl gone who I used to snuggle with at night and chase away frightening nightmares or daunting fears?

You have grown into a woman, ready to confront the challenges of life, strong and optimistic. You stand sure, full of power, without any cynicism, prepared to accomplish your ideals.

I ask that all the dreams of your heart, soul and mind be fulfilled

You stand beautiful and tall. You are not physically tall in your small petite frame, but tall in your worldview, and in the sure direction of fulfilling the dreams of your life.

My beautiful daughter, where have all the years flown?

My seventeen year old son.

I stand next to you. I no longer look down or bend down to search into your eyes. Now, I must crane my neck upwards.

I ask you to reach me a cup from the top shelf of the kitchen. You do so with ease. I used to gently toss you high into the sky as you giggled so loudly. Now you stand so much taller than me.

Where has the little boy gone who I cuddled in my arms? Where has the little boy gone who needed my help in building his block towers, or fixing his small racing cars? You have grown into a tall, upright young man.

I ask you to open up tightly closed jars—jars that are too firm for my grip, but not too tough for yours. Your grip is strong, just like your views and your opinions.

Your jaw is set sharp, just like your thoughts and mind. Your beard is growing. Where did those soft, round cheeks disappear, the ones that got a tender kiss every night? Where did the quivering chin vanish, the one that came to me to make things better, after getting a skinned knee?

You speak eloquently. You quote vast sources of knowledge. You tread the deep waters of Talmud with ease. Your mind is rational, it jumps from one point to the next, erecting a tall tower of strong theoretical foundations. Sometimes you lose me as your confidently expound a Chassidic discourse or a lengthy Talmudic exposition. But you patiently back track, step by step, as you notice the bewilderment in my eyes.

And my mind wanders back to a different time. A time when I sat like this with you, at our kitchen table, helping you solve your homework problems. Then the confusion in the eyes was yours and the confident explaining was mine.

Your grip is strong, just like your views and your opinions

Where has that little curious boy gone? He has grown into a knowledgeable young man, prepared to conquer even far more vast territories of knowledge.

And so I sit here on the sofa at 4:47AM, unable to sleep. This same sofa that I so often dozed on watching you both play.

Tomorrow, dear son and daughter, you both leave again. Back to your yeshiva. Back to your seminary.

And as I wave goodbye to you both, a part of my heart will break off and go with you, on your respective journeys.

My hearts is so full, so full that it feels like it will break. It swells with pride in both of you. In how you have each grown and matured and continue to grow and develop into a young man and woman.

I thank my Creator for allowing me to care for you and for giving me such joy in watching you grow up and overshadow me.

And I thank you both for reminding me with the swift passage of each of your years, how very precious these moments of life are and just how quickly a little boy and a little girl disappear to become all grown up.