Visiting My Uncle in the ICU by Adi Bitter

Visiting My Uncle in the ICU by Adi Bitter

My uncle has been intubated and sedated in the ICU since last Friday. He does not have a wife or children, and my mother, his only sibling, lives in NY and isn’t able to be here now as she was diagnosed with COVID on Erev Rosh Hashana (and is B”H feeling good.) My brother and I who live here in Israel have been spending a lot of time with him.
Just this morning, I went to the court house to process the legal documents that would allow me to sign in the need of emergency medical procedures, which I was told to do asap as it was expected to be a long haul. A few hours later, when I arrived at the hospital after work, he was awake, no longer intubated, with tears of joy in his eyes, talking, laughing, crying, coughing – alive! תשועת ה’ כהרף עין – Hashem’s salvation comes in the blink of an eye.
It is still a very, very long journey for him to recover, and he has a very complicated medical situation, but it was unbelievable to have him back today after not being able to communicate with him while he was asleep on life support.
We’re always so vulnerable, and everything is always in Hashem’s hands, but sometimes, it’s just so much more palpable that Hashem is holding us, supporting us, giving us life.
My uncle’s current situation and salvation is not the only time this year I’ve encountered feeling Hashem’s closeness through medical hardship. Over 15 years ago I called Zappos (a company that at the time sold shoes) and was put on hold. I distinctly remember the recording: Don’t think of it as being on hold; Think of it as being held.
Baruch Hashem, bli ayin hara, I feel blessed to feel myself being held, even, and perhaps especially, because it’s at times that otherwise would be framed as being on hold, as something that puts my routine life on hold. That’s the feeling that I’ve been experiencing.
May we all be zocheh to appreciate the tremendous blessings in our life from a place of revealed good, and to be able to frame the challenging moments in ways that lead to appreciation as well. (One last associative thought: When little things don’t go “my” way, I really try to remind myself of all the good I’m taking for granted. If I need to change a wet sheet in the middle of the night, I can choose to be grateful to have that child in my life, grateful that their kidneys are working properly, grateful to have a clean sheet and a washing machine. It’s not fake nor is it emotional repression, it’s a choice of what piece of my reality I want to focus on, which view I choose of the three-dimensional reality before me.) May we all be blessed with always feeling blessed and held!

*Adi Bitter is a Nishmat yoetzet halacha specializing in fertility and teaches Talmud and Halacha to women in seminaries.

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