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47http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/04/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---04_29_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 04_29_2011
04/27/2011 01:50 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
April 29, 2011

 

Where have I been all week? I took a very early flight to Chicago, on Monday morning, to be with my mother and siblings. We rushed to Evanston Hospital where my father was in ICU following a stroke late on Sunday night. The worry and pain that consumed us was difficult to address as we came to grips with the shocking reality before us. You see, my parents are in their mid-70’s and active. They traveled with us to Israel last year, and made it on every leg of the trip like the troopers they are. In addition to seeing my brother who lives in the Chicago suburbs, they travel to see the rest of us where we live in Lansing, Michigan; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Houston, Texas. With 12 grandchildren, who could blame them? And, they just returned from Scottsdale, where they have spent winters for many years now. Every Sunday, when we talk on the phone, they never fail to tell me how fortunate they are that they have each other and their health. They sympathize with their friends who are ill or facing difficult life choices. And, then it happened to them.

                To me, it felt like the ceiling fell in and I was lifting the beams off my body slowly and awkwardly to clear a path to safety. If I could only get to Chicago, I could be with my father and assure him that he would be okay. At that point, I had no idea what his prognosis was, but my aim, like my siblings’, was to be there at any cost. Apparently, the airlines obliged, but the price of the ticket was worth getting to my father’s bedside as early as possible. I had only just spoken with my eldest sister a few days before to wish her a happy birthday. We looked forward to seeing each other in August, when we would come together to celebrate my mother’s 75th birthday. Now, we were literally reaching out to each other to find the support we came so far to find.

                My mother was stronger than I expected her to be. She was there for her husband, her soul-mate, with whom she deepened her friendship since the four of us left the house so many, many years ago. My dad was sedated and on a ventilator. He couldn’t open his eyes or speak, but he could hear us. Like my siblings and my mother, I held his hand and told him, “Dad, it’s David. I’m here.” He squeezed my hand with his strong right hand; thankfully his writing hand and his painting hand. A retired architect, he returned to his first passion which was painting, and has enjoyed his art and craft every day. My siblings and I stood with my mother at my father’s side and shared a prayer for his health and recovery. The diversity of faith in my extended family covered all the bases we needed to help my father know that there was nothing more important to us than his recovery. It was an unexpected moment in which we found each other; and the prayers that bound us were an unexpected gift we gave together to my father.

                Later that day, my father underwent a 3-hour surgery. At the end of the interminable wait, the surgeon reported to us that he accomplished what he set out to do. He conveyed the results to us in a compassionate and clear way. We were overcome by relief and gratitude. We didn’t take the moment for granted; we shared a prayer of gratitude that we had reached this milestone with my father closer to the beginning of a real recovery. As of Tuesday night, he is off the ventilator and prepared to take very small steps on what will be a very long journey. Today, he experienced a setback. With confidence placed in an excellent medical team at an outstanding hospital, and faith in what we believe is possible, our prayer is that our father will be granted a “refuah sh’leimah” a complete healing.

                Forgive me my open journal, but I thought of you as I stepped through each part of my urgent trip to Chicago, the agony of waiting for information, and the hopefulness that at times seemed nearly impossible to grasp, but without which we could not go on. During the day, two rabbis and a chaplain came to see us. One rabbi was my dear friend and colleague who lives and works in the area, and one was the rabbi of my parents’ Temple. I thought of the times I visited you in the hospital or spoke to you by phone. Their visits broke up the time and our loss of purposefulness in just sitting around. They were thoughtful and engaging. Their comments were helpful and hopeful. It isn’t easy to be the rabbi to your own family when you’re also a son and a brother; so, my colleagues’ Rabbi Paul Cohen and Rabbi Ike Serotta served their purpose with skill and compassion.

                I promise not to write every week about the progress my father makes. But, this week I wanted to share with you that I know all too well what you have experienced, too, when your loved ones faced a medical crisis and your family ran with urgency to come from separate lives to fill a single room with love and hope. I have spent many times with you in hospital rooms; so thank you for being with me in my thoughts. It helps me help my family to maintain hope when the day grows long and the answers are not forthcoming. So, thank you for letting me share this with you, and for being part of my thoughts this week.

                I will return late in the week and resume my care for you. My siblings and I will rotate time to see my parents, and my weekly call will grow to a daily call for news and time to talk with my father. Maybe we’ll Skype, too. In the event that you have a family member who is ill or on the mend, join me in our prayer for their health and well-being,

 

“Baruch Atah, Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haOlam, Rofeih haCholim,” Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, Healer of the sick; help our loved ones feel Your presence; guide the hands of those who help in healing; and enable our loved ones to return to all that they have come to love at home and with family, speedily and in peace.”

 

                As Shabbat nears, let it be a time of real rest and healing. Let it also focus our heads and our hearts on what matters most in our life, if even for the day:  real health and wholeness, refuah v’shalom.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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