These Lights We Kindle
By Alan D. Busch
“Mr. Busch?” a stranger’s voice inquired.
“Please God. No!” I quietly pled, my body trembling. “Not again.”
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.
“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
“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
“Listen Ann,” I interrupted her as politely as I could. “Thank you from
the bottom of my heart. You can’t imagine how much I appreciate what you
I realized later that, in my haste, 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
“Kimmy, my baby!” she cried out. “What, what happened?”
“Listen ‘Hon’,” I interrupted 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.
Exiting at mile marker 80, I turned into a gravel lot about a half mile off the
interstate and saw Kimmy standing in front of the service station that had
towed her car. Appearing exhausted and emotionally fragile, I couldn’t help
but see the 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
“Shhh … shayneh madele.”
“Dad, can we go home now?”
“Yes Sweety, in a few minutes. Get your bags out of the trunk. I’ll meet you
by the car.” I walked over to the garage’s office.
“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, scratching his
head. We settled up.
Kimmy and I stared incredulously at what had been her candy apple red,
white convertible top Toyota Solara. The collision crumpled the 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 seat. “My baby
girl almost died here today,” I muttered, straining to avoid an emotional
breakdown in front of my daughter. I opened the door.
“Kimmy,” I invited her. “Come sit by me.” I moved over. “I need a few
minutes,” I softly pled. She nodded understandingly.
Then they came back to me … the eight words I’d never forget:
“Mr. Busch, I suggest you come down immediately."
Dr. Ibrahim Yosef called me at 10 o’clock in the morning. He was on call that
morning in the ER of Cook County Hospital. 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.
“I'm sorry but Ben has suffered massive internal injuries from a traffic
accident,” he explained. It was then he “suggested” I come down
I sped away to the hospital in a state of focused desperation. I 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.
“Dad, wake up,” Kimmy urged, shaking my shoulder. “It’s time to go home.”
The near loss of my second child led me to revisit the death of my first. It
would not have surprised me if Kimmy, who had been a loving sister to Ben,
had gone there too.
I thank The Almighty for “His miracles that are with us every day” and for
ending this day differently than He had the other when, several years
before, I had begun the day with three children but ended up with two. We
got out of the car. I kissed her forehead.
“Okay, Sweety. I’m ready to go home now.”
We didn’t talk much. Kimmy was skittish, gasping every time I braked or
“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 keep the
promise I had made to 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 brightly.
“My God,” I chastised myself. “Tonight’s the first night of Chanukah.” I felt
bad at first, but quickly realized The One Above enabled Kimmy and me to
live the eternal message of Chanukah: “nes gadol haya sham”-a great
miracle happened there.
Later that week, Kimmy joined me and Zac, her younger brother, for
Shabbat Chanukah dinner. We gathered around the table which was aglow
with the Festival of Lights. It is a season of miracles some old, others new, a
time for spinning dreidels, eating potato latkes and showering chocolate
coins upon the heads of children.
“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 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
Reflecting on how that day might otherwise have ended, I rejoiced in my
Chanukah miracle whose fingers I held tightly in the palm of my hand, the
best gift any dad could ever hope to receive.