After this morning’s Rosh Hashanah service, at which I was both staff in charge and Torah chanter, I came home to have lunch with two grown-up boys. They’d started the cooking while I was out, and the three of us easily and naturally teamed up together to prepare the table and serve each other the food.

We set out on an errand walk after that – to the library and the grocery and then back home. With Little still little enough to hold my hand, it felt almost like being a stay-at-home mother again. There were multiple conversational threads, interruptions, silly jokes, singing – all perfected by the golden autumn sunlight.

There is a text we sing each week that never fails to catch in my throat: chadesh yameinu k’kedem. Though it is typically translated as, “renew our days as of old,” a dear friend taught this paradoxical line to me as, “Renew our days; make them like before.”

At this time of year, we hear that text more frequently and more insistently, as we contemplate what it means to start another year. We want more days, more time, yet it is hard to let go of the time already past. We want it new, but not too new, not at the expense of the sweet bits we already miss.

So when my afternoon turned unexpectedly into an autumn-lit walk with my two best people — those adorable, agonizing people who need me but don’t — it was truly a gift, a thick slice of heaven. As we made our way home, they decided to break away and race me home: them through the woods and me through the neighborhood. I gave them the backpack containing my phone and keys, and waved as they skipped ahead, chasing each other and giggling, a spontaneous Brother Party in the making.

I turned the corner and when I did, I saw a woman walking with two young boys: a toddler and a preschooler. They held hands, skipped, tumbled, laughed — and I saw in the glinting sunlight an echo of the old days, those days which can never be fully renewed and yet which sometimes brush against my cheek like a beloved ghost.

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