For the past few months, my son has been constantly asking about my stepfather, Simon, who passed away last Spring. He has only a few memories of him but for some reason has an affinity for this man whom I loved dearly. My son has his "lucky necklace" which is a penny from my stepfather's house on a piece of string. He has a special stash of odds and ends that I was ready to throw away but he found as treasures in his treasure box. My son will randomly ask things like, "y'know I really like collecting rocks. Did Zeidi collect rocks, too?" He doesn't understand that we were not blood related but more and more, I realize that made no difference. Simon loved me as his own the first time I met him when I was 8 years old and it's such an odd gift for my son to be so fixated on him. I love remembering him, but it also makes my heart ache with longing.
When Hanukkah rolled around, my son was adamant about celebrating because Simon was Jewish. (He doesn't quite understand that you can't be Jewish just by association.) Every night when we light the candle, my son's eyes widen, his cheeks flush, and I can feel Simon's love around each of us. I've said it before but these little humans of mine have shown me such beauty in such sadness.