October 17, 2018
I am not the only writer in my family… I actually am one of three. My beautiful sister who just moved to Israel with her family of six, blogs about their move, their transition and everything in between. My mom, took a more of an old school approach and went ahead and published two books! TWO BOOKS! Isn’t that just incredible?
I could go on and on about all of their writing and how amazing and personal their writing is, but instead, I wanted to share a chapter of one of my mom’s book.
“C5: From Impact to Recovery” is a wife’s memoir that shares one of the most life-altering experiences of our lives as a family. On May 3, 2013 my Dad was hit by a car as he was riding his bicycle only 5 minutes away from the house I grew up in. He was rushed to Shock Trauma and went through countless of surgeries, tests, physical therapy etc… my dad and mom’s strength, faith and perseverance is the definition of inspirational.
When my mom decided to write a book sharing their experience, she came to me and asked if she could include a short narrative I wrote for one of my college classes and I wanted to share it with all of you.
As I’m mindlessly flipping through my Hebrew notes for my quiz in about thirty seconds, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. It’s a text from my mom. “Call me ASAP.” I reply automatically “Is something wrong?” As the teacher starts handing out the quiz, it’s no longer my biggest concern. I feel my phone vibrate again, and although I shouldn’t check it, I do. “No.” My heart stops. I put my name on the quiz and hand it in without a second thought. As I fumble to grab my things, I see my hands are shaking. The girl next to me asks me if I’m OK. I give her a weak excuse for a smile and turn away.
I dial my mom as I’m fleeing from the classroom. No answer. A million terrible scenarios flash through my mind. I call her again as I rush down the stairs. No answer. Again. No answer. Finally she calls me back “Honey?” her voice isn’t as strong and sure as usual. I feel my eyes tearing up. Is it my sister? My grandmother? My cousin? “Mom, just say it.” I’m pacing back and forth right outside of Susquehanna Hall. I feel the sun beaming down on me, I hear the birds chirping above me, and I feel a lump forming inside of me “Daddy was in an accident, it’s really bad sweetie, you have to come here now. We’re in Shock Trauma.”
My dad? My dad is never hurt. Never scared. Always strong.
“How bad is it?” I say as I lean against the wall for support. I hear my mom sigh. “I’m not so sure honey, just come here. I need you. I’m scared.”
I hang up the phone. I can barely breathe. I must be dreaming. I have to be dreaming. I call my friend Martin and within an hour we are speeding down 95 to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma in downtown Baltimore. I don’t say a word. Martin doesn’t seem to mind. He puts his hand on mine. All I can think about is how horrible I’ve been. I haven’t spoken to my Dad in months. We’ve had our differences about religion and life choices. Last week he sent me an email saying how he wished we’d work through our problems. I didn’t reply. I told myself I’d reply when I was less busy, but honestly, I had no intention of responding. Too many things were said, too many feelings were hurt. Now, we might never have the chance to say anything. I might not have the chance to say goodbye.
I grab my things from the backseat of Martin’s car.
“Everything will be OK, he calls out. I thank him for the ride and run inside.
I’ve never been to the University of Maryland hospital. I look lost and confused and realize that most of the people in here are probably just as lost and confused as I am. A woman smiles at me from behind the welcome desk and asks me if I know where I’m going.
“Um, I’m looking for Shock Trauma.”
She gives me directions and slaps a pink wrist band on me, I mumble thank you and walk away. As I turn the corner I see familiar faces: the rabbi of our congregation, my mom’s best friend, my dad’s brother.
This can’t be happening.
No one says a word, but my uncle points to a small waiting room at the end of the hall. It feels like it’s a million miles away. I rush past them and finally see my mom. As our eyes meet I can’t hold back the tears any longer. She’s just standing there, looking small, scared and alone. Somehow, as if by magic, my legs move toward my mom and I’m finally within reach.
She grabs on to me. Everyone else leaves the waiting room.
“He’s a good man, he’s a good man,” my mom says as her tears fall down the back of my shirt. I stroke her hair. I whisper words of encouragement and force myself to stop crying because now I must be strong. Now my mom needs me in a way I wish she didn’t.
Eventually I get my mom to stop shaking and sit down. As if on cue, the familiar faces return to the waiting room. My mom won’t let go of my hand. She clutches onto me as if I’m her last hope. People race around us. Doctors come in and explain that my dad will need to have three spine surgeries within the next 24 hours. They don’t know if he is going to be able to walk again. They don’t know if he is going to make it.
I realize that I still don’t know how my dad ended up here. How I went from sitting in a college classroom to sitting in a Shock Trauma waiting room. As if she can read my mind, my mom explains that my dad was riding his bike and was hit by a car. The driver thought he could beat my dad but instead he hit him and sent him flying.
A young doctor leads my mom and me upstairs to see my dad. There are wires and machines everywhere. The only part of his body I can see is his face, swollen and bruised, his lip busted, two front teeth chipped, his eyes are disoriented and lost.
As they begin to wheel him out of the room my dad makes them stop in front of mom and mouths, “I was being safe, it wasn’t my fault” and then he’s gone. My mom and I stand there for a few more minutes.
She holds on to me and repeats, “He’s a good man Yael, he’s such a good man.”
This day changed my life and my family’s life forever. My mom’s book is personal, vulnerable and beautiful in every way. I know I might be totally biased, but “C5: From Impact to Recovery” is a must read and I recommend all of you to click on over to Amazon, buy my mom’s book and read more about their strength and love.
This one goes out to all the families out there who have overcome the hurdles G-d has placed in front of you with grace and poise.