I’ve never been into gazing into the mirror. In my youth, I had no patience for it. Now, I have no appetite. What’s there to see, anyway? Since Shaina’s diagnosis, the looking glass shows me the grey strands in my beard and the stress lines across my brow. I don’t always recognise the weary eyes that blink back at me.
Peeking at the mirror is also uncomfortably introspective. In it, I see unfinished projects- dreams that erupted brightly in my imagination but went no farther. I recognise a father who should spend more quality time with his children and a rabbi who should inspire his community to greater spiritual engagement. I think that life could be more comfortable if we didn’t check our reflections each morning.
Shaina disagrees. She loves to watch her reflection. She’ll chat to her likeness, dance in front of the mirror and sit smiling at herself for spells at a time.
I recently caught sight of her sitting in front of a makeup mirror. She had the sweetest smile as she gazed at her reflection. I quickly snapped a photo as I clicked that Shaina was teaching us yet another life lesson.
She can’t verbalise what she sees in the mirror, but her smile speaks volumes. Shaina doesn’t analyse if her teeth are straight (they’re not), nor does she feel uncomfortable if her eye travels. She doesn’t reflect on her missed milestones or physical limitations. We can’t ask her to describe what she sees in the mirror, but we know it’s a pure reflection. I sense that she sees a happy girl who always smiles back at her and mimics her dance moves. She sees a beautiful soul living in the body of an adorable, mischievous seven-year-old. I believe that she sees a person designed just as G-d intended.
I often look at the photo I snapped that day. It reminds me that Shaina is okay. She focuses on the good and isn’t distracted by negativity. Whenever I see that photo, it reminds me to go easier on the person behind the face in my mirror. It teaches me that none of us is perfect, and we don’t need to be. We need to be happy, prepared to work through our challenges and willing to celebrate our successes. In that photo, I see Shaina recognising in herself what G-d sees in her- purity, happiness and goodness. And it inspires me to try to see the same in myself.