These Lights We Kindle
By Alan D. Busch
“Mr. Busch?” a stranger’s voice inquired.
I girded myself but could not stop trembling for I knew, with a
parent’s intuition, that something bad had befallen one of my
“Please God. No!” I silently pled. “Not again.”
“Yes, this is Mr. Busch,” I acknowledged reluctantly.
“Mr. Busch, my name is Ann,” she began calmly. “I have
just left your daughter Kimberly.”
“Kimberly!” I shot back. “Is she alright? Is she hurt?
Tell me where she is!”
"Mr. Busch,” she 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."
“Kimmy. An accident! Not hurt! Thank God!”
“Yes, yes. She’s fine,” she reassured me.
“I’ve already left the scene,” Ann 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 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 on Ann without getting her last
name and phone number.
“Jan, sorry to call at work but it’s urgent,” I told Kimmy’s
mom with as much calm as I could feign. “What is it?” she
asked haltingly. I swallowed hard.
“Kimmy’s been in an accident, but she’s fine,” I hastened to
emphasize. “Walked away without a scratch.”
“No, not Kimmy!” she cried out, her voice choked with
“Listen ‘Hon’,” I interrupted, addressing her with an old term
of endearment. “Kimberly is safe and unhurt. She’ll tell you
everything later. I’m leaving to get her right now. Talk later.”
I gathered my things and ran out.
I found Kimmy standing in front of the service garage that
had towed her car.
“Dad, can we just go home?” she asked, looking battered
and worn out.
“Yes Sweety, in a few minutes.” I walked over to the garage’s
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bill, the paunchy owner,
“And I’ve seen quite a few of these in my time,” he added,
looking perplexed while scratching his head. We settled up.
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 slumped down in the driver’s seat. “My baby girl
almost died here today,” I muttered to myself, desperately
straining not to break down in front of my daughter.
“Dad, are you ready?” Kimmy, my only daughter, asked with
“Not quite, Sweety Give me a couple minutes more,” I softly
pled. She nodded reluctantly.Then they came back to me.
The six words I’ll never forget.
Dr. Ibrahim Yosef, chief resident trauma surgeon, 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.
“Ben has suffered massive internal injuries from a traffic
accident,” he explained. Then he said them: “I suggest you
come down immediately." 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. I knew in my mind’s eye from that moment
on that I would stare at Ben’s unresponsive body forever.
“Dad?” Kimmy called me, shaking my shoulder. I got up and
planted a big “Daddy” kiss on her forehead.
“Okay. Now I’m ready to go home, Sweety.”
We didn’t talk much. Kimmy, understandably skittish,
gasped every time I braked or switched lanes.
“Yes Dad. Just beat.” An hour and a half later, I pulled into
my old driveway. My heart sank. I wanted to spend more
time with her, but her mom was waiting. We’d get together
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
Kimmy joined me and Zac, her younger brother, that Friday
night for Shabbat Chanukah dinner. The table was set, its
candles aglow. We gathered around.
“Sweetheart,” I turned to my daughter. My voice cracked as I
began a short speech.
“Yes Dad,” she responded laughingly while drying a few
“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 flickered 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 have otherwise ended, I
realized that “a great miracle had happened there”, the best
Chanukah gift any dad could ever hope to receive.
Alan D. Busch