Tearing my daughter away from her best friend was one of the hardest parts of our aliyah journey. For only being seven years old, they have formed a true friendship. They really understand each other and love each other. People spend their lives looking for close friendships like they have.
Over the summer we had a two step goodbye process. The first was when we moved out of New Jersey. We sold our house and moved to Baltimore for the summer. We were staying in America on the same time zone but would not be in New Jersey. After that goodbye my daughter cried each night before bed for a few weeks. Her pain of saying goodbye to her best friend was enough for me to doubt our aliyah all together. They spoke on the phone and on Skype each night, but it was really difficult for her and broke my heart to watch. I tried to comfort her, but what was I supposed to say? The truth is we were making her leave her best friend. We were tearing them apart and it hurt.
We spent two nights in New Jersey before we boarded our flight to Israel. My daughter’s best friend came to visit one last time. After that special bonus visit, I had to physically pry my daughter from her friend and we both cried. I still tear up just thinking about how hard those moments were for her.
Since that extremely difficult day in August, we have been waiting rather impatiently for January to come. In fact, when we made our cake party countdown, we marked off the day that she was scheduled to arrive and counted down to the visit. They video call each Sunday and stay in touch as best as they can. But nothing beats an in person visit.
Fast forward to the present. Winter break finally came and my daughter’s best friend came to visit. They arrived at our house early so that they could great my daughter right when she got off her school bus. My daughter just stood there smiling at her friend. It was almost as if she could not believe she was really here. Her faced was flushed and I could see how truly happy she was to be reunited with her best friend. They hugged and went inside to play.
My friend (my daughter’s best friend’s mom) is super generous and came bearing gifts as usual. One of the things she brought was a photo album with so many special memories of my daughter and her best friend. Photos of their first play date, kindergarten graduation, siddur play, chumush play, and when the day they said goodbye. We always took pictures of their milestones. I figured that one day they would look back at all the pictures with fondness, but I assumed the book would be much thicker. I assumed they would be best friends and go through their life milestones together for many years to come. Aliyah changed that.
I am so grateful that our friends came to visit and that my daughter has such an amazing friend. I love her friend like one of my own daughters. We enjoyed making new memories in our new home. It was a great visit. And then, this morning, we had to say goodbye. It was not any easier than our August goodbye. With tears in my eyes I pried my daughter from her best friend once again. This time with no planned visit in the future. As they walked down the stairs, I held my daughter and we both cried. All I could do was hold her.
I am so happy that we made aliyah, but this part is heartbreaking. We cried for a while. Then, she got her photo album and teddy bear from her best friend and we looked through all the memories together. We talked about how the girls had grown since their first play date and enjoyed reliving some of the times spent together. At times like this I just pray that aliyah was the right decision. I hope that they can stay close friends despite the distance. I hope that they can continue to make memories together for years to come and continue to add photos to the album.
The hardest part about watching her pain is to know I caused it. Although we discussed our aliyah plans with my daughter, she did not choose to make aliyah. My husband and I decided it was best for our family. We knew that leaving friends would be hard. I did not realize to what extent. Knowing that she is in pain and missing her best friend because of my decision is heart wrenching. I hope one day the goodbye will not be so hard. I hope that she will not resent me for bringing her to Israel. On most days, she is happy to be here and happy that we moved, but when we have to say goodbye, I question our decisions and daven that she will continue to think of our aliyah as a positive experience and not one of sadness. I hope she will forgive me for putting her through this.