Zimra Vigoda
Zimra Vigoda

Leaving the Nest and Chasing Dreams in the Days of COVID

Photo Credit: Eric Traugott
Celebrating Victory at UTA

“Ima, where are you?” she asked.

“Just getting back from the bus station. I dropped Yoav off so he can get back to base.” I answered.

“One down, two to go,” she joked.

“Oh, earlier, I dropped Roi at the station so he can take the train to the plane”, I replied.

She chuckled, “Two down, one to go.” After a very volatile family weekend, she didn’t mind some quiet.

Even in the Best of Times, since the Beginning of Time (I think), parents experience mixed and intense emotions as their young adult children leave the nest.

Sending kids to mandatory military service is hard.

Even in the Best of Times.

Having a young adult child who recently finished his mandatory service fly off to a trek in the Alps with a backpack and a tent is exciting. It is also just a wee bit nerve-wracking.

Even in the Best of Times.

Sending a kid to a faraway college (abroad) is exciting. It is also hard.

Even in the Best of Times.

However, these are not the Best of Times.

When all three boys leave in a span of two days, in the midst of the uncertainty of a raging pandemic, this momma is feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

The experience of the military and the trek I luckily share with my community in Israel and the comradery somewhat eases the anxiety.

In the case of Amit, I am quite alone. In Israel, his (and our) experience is unique.

In a few hours, just as the COVID regulations shift and nearly all arrivals to Israel are quarantined upon landing, Amit (19) will be taking his sports wheelchair, a massive suitcase and a large carry on and will board a flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport on his way to Dallas-Fort-Worth International Airport.

Photo Credit: Eric Traugott

He is commencing his sophomore year at the University of Texas at Arlington and his second season playing D1 college wheelchair basketball on the UT Movin’ Mavs on a full, athletic scholarship.

Photo Credit: Ziv Barak

From the moment he was born, it became clear that his life trajectory will significantly differ from his siblings or peers. Born in Israel with a really bum leg that ended in amputation at age 11 and a larger-than-life personality, this kid has proven the power of dreaming big, grit and determination.

At the age of 10, during our three-year stint in California, Amit discovered wheelchair basketball. He “agreed” to return to Israel only if we found a wheelchair basketball framework.

We did. Actually, we found a second home at the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled. There, he continued to develop and mature.

Today, he plays on the U22 Israel National Team that, this past spring, brought home a historic bronze medal at European Championships and a ticket to World Championships in Chiba, Japan in 2022. Recently, he also started to play with the adult national team (they didn’t make the cut for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Paralympics but fingers crossed for Paris 2024).

Amit knows that his place, right now, is at UTA in Arlington, Texas where he has the opportunity to earn a college degree (in International Business) and further develop as a player on an amazing team which is also like a family – they won the US Intercollegiate Nationals last year and Amit was awarded MVP.

I also know that his place, right now, is at UTA in Arlington, Texas but goodbyes are never easy, not even in the Best of Times and these are not the Best of Times.

As COVID continues to rage globally, last night’s news was that the US upgraded Israel to a Level 4 country, recommending that US citizens not travel here and Israel is pondering putting the US on its list of countries that are forbidden to fly to (without special permission).

Scary Times.

Nonetheless, in 12 hours, we will be on our way to take Amit to the airport so he can pursue his dreams. I’ll try to hold back my tears of joy and sadness, embracing my staunch belief that young adult children must fly from the nest to chase their dreams even if these are Not the Best of Times.

Follow Amit’s journey on Instagram 

Here is what Amit Vigoda had to say ????????❤️???????????? ???????? ???????? ????????

Posted by Zimra Vigoda on Friday, June 18, 2021

About the Author
Zimra was born in Budapest and grew up in New York City. She immigrated to Israel in 1994 and for the past two decades has worked with diverse for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Currently, she serves as a resource development expert on the Civics and Shared Education team at the Center for Educational Technology (CET) in Tel Aviv. Zimra is mother to 4 children, ages 12 to 21. Inspired by her 16-year old son Amit, a lower limb amputee, she is passionate about competitive wheelchair basketball and spends much of her free time rooting for her favorite teams. Today, she and her family are living in the Negev.
Related Topics
Related Posts