I am in awe of the kindness of strangers. Nearly the one year anniversary since Noa’s heart surgery, and we all, including Noa, look back on that experience with feelings of immense happiness. Sure, the days leading up to surgery, the hours during and the days after were grueling and intense but it was all softened and sweetened by so much kindness.
When I let myself float back, I find myself lulled by the laid-back summer air in Boston, many of the days spent in the magnificent penthouse apartment that a kind stranger let us use for free for weeks while he was out of town. I remember the moment I received his phone call. He was responding to an ad I had placed on the internet regarding the apartment rental we were seeking in Boston. I recall my disbelief when he also offered us the use of his car, to help ourselves to the food in the fridge and so on. “Was this for real?” I thought, and it sure was. I see the many toys lent to us by a group of Israelis living in Boston. I think of the organization, Rofeh, set up by the Bostoner Rebbe, with their accommodation, advice and meals for Jews who come to Boston for medical treatment.
And on the streets of Boston, I was taken aback by the almost over-the-top warmth and friendliness of strangers, who had no clue Noa had just had heart surgery though probably noticed my big belly. People who jostled wildly to help me with my stroller, rushed to open doors, offered so many big smiles. My time walking around the city renewed my faith in people to help and be beyond their selves, their thoughts and their immediate lives.
I cried as we drove out the city toward New York, a city I was visiting for the first time. Part of me did not want to leave Boston nor this “idyllic” summer behind. Days filled with the relief that the surgery had gone well. The relief of seeing that Noa was untainted and that her fierce spirit was intact, even in ICU as she tried to stand up and leave for the park, and that her boundless energy was back again within days.
We have Hashem to thank – for everything. As well as the family that helped make it happen, the doctors and staff at Boston Children’s Hospital, the abundance of prayers and thoughts of family and friends that we felt so strongly carrying us throughout our so smooth stay. We have the kindness of strangers.
The year that has followed has been a ride, mainly adjusting to the existence of two little ladies and not just the one who had occupied my whole world so thoroughly for almost three years. But as I digest the “what is” more and more, I am jolted with waves of relief and gratitude by everything last summer.
And It reminds me to be kind, even when or especially when I am not in the mood.
I aspire to inspire my little girls to give too. I’ve often heard it said that it doesn’t matter about the specifics, as long as at the end of the day one’s kids are happy and healthy. I pray that they will be, and that they will be people who give to the world wholeheartedly.