Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"... al ha Nissim ...... "

It was during Purim one year while Ben and I were delivering food baskets for the needy (the mitzvah of "matanot l'Evyonim") that it first happened. He had just eaten not more than an hour before which made it all the more perplexing and frightening. After having finished our last delivery, we were on the way home when I just happened to look over at Ben. It was then that I saw something about which I had heard but had never seen until that moment, a "grand mal" epilectic seizure. At first I thought it to be hypoglycemia, but I immediately knew that something, somehow was different. Unlike the wild and uncontrolled episodic fits of hypoglycemia, this epilectic seizure was marked by stiff robotic-like, spasmodic movements. At the time, however, I didn't and couldn't have known it to be anything but hypoglycemia. Frightened and very confused, I drove into the parking lot of a local restaurant, raced inside and demanded of the counter person that I be given a coke immediately with which, I thought, I could raise Ben's blood sugar, but by the time I returned Ben was just coming out of the seizure. He was alone for but a minute or so.

We drove home and told Ben's mom. For the next several hours, Ben suffered several more seizures. We called his doctor repeatedly! What was this happening to Ben? To us? Unless you have witnessed these seizures, it is difficult to imagine the fear and utter powerlessness that took hold of us as we watched Ben drift in and out of these horrific events. I cannot honestly tell you why we did not rush off to the hospital earlier. Finally after many agonizing hours, we drove Ben to the emergency room where just a short time later, after having heard our descriptions of the appearance of Ben's seizures, that a certain diagnosis was made. As if juvenile diabetes were not enough, Ben was now stricken with epilepsy! Over the next several days the seizures continued while the neurologist sought the right combination of medicines with which to quiet these potentially life-threaning seizures.
*al ha nissim ... for the miracles
**Purim ... Jewish holiday based upon the Book of Esther.

Postscript to "Al Ha Nissim": *Rachomim

The **sukkah is fashioned as a temporary dwelling; its four sides flimsily built, its roof thatched and open to raindrops-we dwell therein during the festival of ***Sukkot to recall the temporary dwellings of the Israelites in their forty year desert sojourn. We are taught metaphorically that the sukkah reflects the delicate and vulnerable nature of life itself, that at times dark clouds do gather overhead, the inclemency of the autumn rains at times spoiling the ****simcha of our festive meals.

It was once on a chilly and rainy Sukkot night that Ben and I-after having dwelt for a short while in the sukkah of his mom's synagogue-left together and returned home to pick up a winter coat that I had barely if ever worn. "Ben, I know of someone who could use this." Tucked away in the corner of a local storefront was the "sukkah" of a homeless man whom I had often noticed as I drove by at night on the way home. We pulled in front, Ben and I, took the coat, laid it atop his "dwelling", turned and left.
*Rachomim ... mercy
**Sukkah ... temporary dwelling of Sukkot
***Sukkot ... Jewish holiday, season of our joy
**** simcha ...joy, happiness


Robert said...

Very beautiful and moving. may Ben's memory be a blessing.

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Thank you Robert for your kind words and speedy response!