The trials of sick children and failing marriages ...
These are The People ... Ben's Mom
Should it happen to befall us to see our children in pain, the frightening dilemma of how best to cope with that horrendous reality challenges and exhausts our parental reserves of shared faith and strength all too quickly.
Notwithstanding the wellness of our marriages, we must focus solely on the well-being of our children.
There are instances when words alone cannot adequately convey the depth of our feelings.
A tender hug can transform the aloneness of suffering into a shared experience, thereby making it a bit more bearable.
The Accident …
Several weeks after suffering a nearly fatal traffic accident, Ben began to suffer severe shortness of breath, walking difficulty and chest pain.
The surgeon with whom we met diagnosed Ben with a severe pneumonia and advised that he undergo immediate lung surgery.
Her diagnosis and treatment recommendation came at a time in my marriage when Ben's mom and I hadn't had any contact with each other for several months though we continued to live together under the same roof.
My coincidental religious odyssey ...
Ben's mom used to say she no longer recognized me as the same man whom she had known. Had you seen me before and after I decided to become more Jewishly observant, you probably would have agreed with her.
Thinking I could quicken the pace of my religious growth by changing my appearance, I dressed myself in the “uniform” of some, but not all, observant men, which included a dark suit, white shirt, tie, kippah and black fedora.
All this while I struggled to adopt the stringencies of a kosher lifestyle.
I failed in the end.
Choosing to ignore an admonition by a dear friend that I was spending too much time in synagogue rather than with my family, I chose to not heed his advice-no matter that it had come from an older and wiser man.
An Unbridgeable Distance
Standing by his bedside where he lay recovering from his surgery, Ben's mom and I bore witness to his wrenching pain. Although he fought back mightily, his cries were heart piercing.
"Ben ... be strong, son! Even stronger!" I implored.
How awkward it felt saying these words to Ben as if he were not already doing his best!
How awful it is to see one's child in pain!
Ben’s mom left the room. I found her in the family waiting lounge just steps away. Quietly weeping, she stood by the window just staring out at a calm Lake Michigan in Chicago.
I wanted very much to comfort her, but I dare not! I thought she would not have wanted me to touch her, to hug her! As she often said back then, I was no longer the same man whom she had once known and loved.
So there we were, the two of us, Ben's mom and dad, not ten feet away from each other, but it might well have been hundreds of miles … tragically unable to offer each other even the slightest comfort for our son’s suffering, our suffering-common but not shared!
 skullcap worn by observant Jewish men.
Site: The Book of Ben
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"These Are The People ... Ben's Mom"