♦ For Emotional Purposes Only

Dear Shaina,

I keep reading your letter over and over again, just to look at the pictures…You in your ratty shorts and tee shirt standing by the stove, your hair haphazardly piled on top of your head and your smiling twisted body balancing your friend on your back at the Taj.  I can practically feel the dryness of your skin when I look at the picture of you touching the artistry on that wall. I love feeling you in your pictures. I guess I miss you, just a little!

People always ask me “How did you let her go?” or “Aren’t you scared?” 

The truth is… I am scared. I have been scared since the day you were yanked out of my body. It doesn’t really matter where you are. I will always be scared, but so what?  That doesn’t mean either of us have to stop living.  Being scared doesn’t change the outcome, whatever it may be.  So I ignore my scared in favor of marveling at your adventurous nature and taking pride in your accomplishments.

IMG_0887As far as not letting you go, was that ever even an option? I have been working on letting you go, also, since the day you were born. Isn’t that my job as a parent? Well, maybe I did too good a job.

I still do miss you. And your pictures bring you a little closer. I know that you are probably not missing us in exactly the same way, but I couldn’t help but think that you might find a small bit of pleasure from seeing some pictures of our life.  So I started taking pics everywhere I went…lest you think I just sit around all day and miss you.  I will warn you…these are iPhone pics taken in bad light by non-professionals in random situations at spontaneous moments. No photo commentary allowed.  These pics are for emotional purposes only.

photoAs I looked through the lens of my camera, I realized that you are a virtual part of every scene in my life.

photo copy 2

I volunteered at the White Elephant Sale at the Day School and there I was working in the gym in which you ran laps and said Shabbat blessings every Friday for eight years of your life. Your former principal was organizing the sale and we talked about where you were and what you were doing. You were with me in that gym for those hours that I folded and organized and stacked stuff.

I went over to the JCC to check out some replacement tiles for my mah jong set and they were teaching mah jong and needed a fourth, so I sat down at the table and there was your fifth grade teacher.  I remembered her name. She asked about you…and there you were again…with me at the table.

photo 2

The NCCJ Awards dinner was last night and I was at a table with one of your Anytown co-workers.

I talked to a whole bunch of people who knew you and asked about you. My name was Shaina Shealy’s mom and I was so proud to have you with me all evening long.

photo 3
There isn’t a day that goes by without a Shaina connection.

I know I haven’t mentioned much about food, although you are totally entwined in my life when it comes to food. My most recent experiment was replicating Bubbe’s Chicken Burgers.  Maybe I’m just in a missing mood, but I really wanted one of those garlicky Bubbe burgers, smothered with fried onions. I served them one Shabbat and everyone loved them. They were such a hit that I am considering making them as a Passover dish and using matzoh meal instead of flour.

I cant believe Passover is in three weeks!  Another opportunity to clean out the cupboards…and to miss you.  I’ll be pulling out the Indian fabric to drape over the tables and maybe even making a little Indian inspired spicy charoseth…to have a little of you there, at the table.

Have a wonderful Passover…wherever you happen to be…and keep sending those pictures!




Bubbe’s Chicken Burgers

Easy and Delicious!


This recipe can be doubled for a crowd and the seasonings are really up to you. For gluten free burgers, just leave off the bread crumbs. They can be made cocktail sized and served on baguette rounds for a hearty appetizer.

  • 4 -6 fresh cloves of garlic (use less if you’re not a garlic fan)IMG_0828
  • ½ of a medium onion
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts cleaned and trimmed (more or less)
  • ⅓ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 large sweet onions thinly sliced
  • Olive oil

Put the onions and garlic in the food processor bowl with the steel chopping bladeand chop until minced. Add the chicken breasts, bread crumbs, eggs and salt and pepper to the bowl and process until the chicken is finely chopped.
In a large frying pan, sauté onions slices (I like a lot of onions) in a small amount of olive oil until translucent or lightly caramelized.  Use your hands (mixture is sticky so wet your hands with water as needed while making patties) to form chicken mixture into small flattened patties and sauté with the onions, adding oil as needed.  The onions will become more browned as the chicken burgers cook.  Cook thoroughly until done.  Make a small test burger and add seasonings as needed.


Can be served with pasta and salad or as a sandwich.  These are good hot, warm or cold.

2 pounds of chicken makes a whole lot of little burgers…enough for a crowd and leftovers. The recipe can easily be cut in half or doubled.

Burgers can be frozen and reheated. Just sauté some fresh onions and they are as good as the day they were made. They are almost as good as I remember Bubbe’s!

7 thoughts on “♦ For Emotional Purposes Only

  1. I really enjoying reading especially as new mom you inspire me about ‘letting go’ aspect of raising kids.

    Of course love Polina’s korleti ( this is what we call them).

  2. Love your blog Esther! Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were on the journey towards independence from our parents? Love how personal and loving you and Shaina are in your letter to each other! xo Karen

  3. Pingback: Passover Ideas From Both of Us | cross counter exchange

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