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Alan D Busch

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revision three of These Lights We Kindle (for submission)

 These Lights We Kindle

By Alan D. Busch


“Mr. Busch?” a stranger’s voice inquired. 

“Please God. No!” I silently pled, my body trembling. “Not


I girded myself for I knew, with a parent’s intuition,

that something bad had befallen one of my children.

“Yes,” I acknowledged reluctantly. “This is Mr. Busch.”

“Mr. Busch, my name is Ann,” she began calmly.  “I have

  just left your daughter Kimberly.”

 “Kimberly!” I panicked. “Is she alright? Is she hurt?

  Tell me where she is!”

"Mr. Busch,” Ann continued as calmly as she had begun.

“Your daughter is fine. Really! We’re about an hour south

of Chicago at mile marker 80. Kimberly was involved in an

accident, but she isn't hurt, not a scratch,” she reassured


“I’ve already left the scene,” Ann further explained, “but when

I saw it happen, I pulled over to offer whatever assistance I

could. That’s when I met Kimmy. I promised her I’d call you

as soon as the police and rescue arrived.”

“Listen Ann,” I interrupted her as politely as I could.  “Thank

you from  the bottom of my heart. You can’t imagine how

much what you’ve done means to me.”

I realized later I had hung up the phone without getting Ann’s

last name and phone number.

“Jan,” I called Kimmy’s mother.  “Sorry to call you at work

but, but …”

“But what,” she asked haltingly. I swallowed hard.

“Kimmy was in an accident, but she’s fine,” I hastened to

add. “Not a scratch.”

Kimmy, my baby!” she cried out. “What, what happened?”

“Listen ‘Hon’,” I interrupted, addressing her with an old term

of endearment.

I’m leaving to get Kimmy right now.  She’ll tell you later.”

I gathered my things and ran out.

When I turned into the gravel lot about a half mile off the

interstate, I saw Kimmy standing in front of the service

station that had towed her car. She appeared impatient,

exhausted and emotionally on the edge, but the child before

my eyes was the same little girl whose red hair I used to put

up in a ponytail like that of Pebbles on The Flintstones.

“Daddy, I … I’m so sor …” she trembled as I held her, her

head on my shoulder, sobbing.

“Shhh … sha shayneh madele.”

“Dad, can we just go home?” she asked, looking battered

and worn out.

“Yes Sweety, in a few minutes. Get your bags out of the

trunk. I'll meet you over there." I walked over to the garage’s


“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bill, the paunchy garage

owner, admitted. 

“And I’ve seen quite a few of these in my time,” he added,

looking perplexed while scratching his

head.  We settled up.

We stood there dumbfounded, staring at what had been

Kimmy’s candy apple red, white convertible

top Toyota Solara. The collision crumpled the entire front end

within several inches of the dashboard, making it look like the

bellows of an accordion, The driver’s side door, to my

amazement, opened cleanly. I got in, took hold of the

steering wheel and slumped down in the

driver’s seat.  “My baby girl almost died here today,” I

muttered to myself, desperately straining to

avoid breaking down in front of my daughter.

“Kimmy,” I opened the door. “Sit here by me,” I invited her,

patting the edge of the seat. I moved

over. “I need a few minutes,” I softly pled. She nodded


Then they came back to me … the eight words I’d never


“Mr. Busch, I suggest you come down immediately."

Dr. Ibrahim Yosef, chief resident trauma surgeon, was on

call that morning in the ER of Cook County Hospital when he

called me around 10 o’clock in the morning. My first-born son

Ben had been transported in by Chicago Fire paramedics

only minutes before.

“Mr. Busch? Are you the father of Benjamin Busch?”

 “Yes, Sir,” my voice quivered.

“Ben has suffered massive internal injuries from a traffic

accident,” he explained. It was then he said them.  I sped

away from my office in compliance with Dr. Yosef’s

“suggestion” in a state of focused desperation, I knew, I just

knew how this day would end.

Two hours later, my father and I witnessed our twenty-two

year old son and grandson die on the emergency room

operating table. I knew in my mind’s eye I would stare forever

at Ben’s unresponsive body.

“Dad, wake up,” Kimmy urged, shaking my shoulder. “It’s

time to go home.” For my daughter, it was

a moment she wanted to leave behind and move on.

After all, who among us wants to replay the footage of his

near violent death? And there I was, trying my best to

comprehend the enormity of nearly having lost a second

child by using the only meaningful point of reference I had,

the death of Kimmy’s brother. But this was not about Ben

though I suppose my drifting away for a moment to make the

connection is understandable if not entirely justifiable. It was

all about my daughter, that once enchanting little ballerina

with the amazingly long and slender fingers. She now sat

next to me on the edge of the driver’s seat, a grown up soon

to be law school graduate whose fingers were still as lovely

as they had been when she danced upon toe shoe. I like to

believe Kimmy knew where I had gone for several moments.

Knowing the kind of loving sister she had been to Ben, it

would not surprise me at all if she had gone there too. But

today ended, and I thank The Almighty for this, differently

than had the other when I had begun the day with three

children but came home with only two. We got up out of the

car. I planted a big “Daddy” kiss on her forehead. “Okay,

Sweety. Now I’m ready to go home.”

We didn’t talk much.  Kimmy, understandably skittish,

gasped every time I braked or switched  lanes. “You okay?”

“Yes Dad. Just beat.” An hour and a half later, I dropped

Kimmy off at her mom’s house.  My heart sank. I wanted to

spend more time with her, but I had to remain true to the

promise I had made her mother. “We’ll get together later,” I

reassured myself.  As I pulled out of the driveway, I saw the

chanukiah Kimmy’s mom had placed in the front window.

The shamash and the first candle shone happily. “My God,” I

chastised myself. “Tonight’s the first night of Chanukah. At

first I felt bad, but I realized that even though the tumult of the

day had made me unmindful, it hadn’t severed me from

its eternal message, encoded on the dreidel: “nes gadol haya

sham”-a great miracle happened there.

Later that week, Kimmy joined me and Zac, her younger

brother, for Shabbat Chanukah dinner.  The table was set, its

candles aglow. It was the season of miracles old and new, a

time for spinning dreidels, eating potato latkes and showering

chocolate coins upon the heads of children.

Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, was on display in the front

window of every Jewish home.

We gathered around. “Sweetheart," my voice cracked as I

began a short speech. “Yes Dad,” she responded laughingly

while drying a few tears.

“This Shabbat is extra special.”  I lifted the Kiddush cup. "I

am so thankful to have you by my side.” My right hand

trembled slightly. I let a moment pass. The flickering candles

shone more brightly at that instant, illuminating the

serpentine path of a single drop of wine running down my

hand. I chanted the blessing over the wine and thanked The

One Above for her life. It was a wonderfully, simple moment.

Reflecting on how that day might otherwise have ended, I

rejoiced in my Chanukah miracle whose fingers I held in the

palm of my hand, the best gift any dad could ever

hope to receive.








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Reviewed by Micki Peluso 11/21/2009
Dear Alan,

I love this story and I think it has been revised enough and is ready to go!!


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