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When the walls of his failed heart collapse, he suffers a damaging heart attack. He lacks any blood flow, so the EMTs declare him dead. Shocked, he fluctuates between slightly dead and more dead. The ambulance volunteers bring him to Northern Westchester’s cath lab.
Unafraid, he sees The Light. He meets Moses carrying tablets down Mt. Sinai, greeting newcomers going up. Relatives weigh his mitzvahs: pro bono work with clients, sick friends, nursing home visits. The judge calls his wife to the witness stand. She says, “He should live.” They await the verdict.
I give her my sympathy: my self-control and dignity as I listen to her story of how her ear has been hurting for one day and she just can’t take the pain anymore.
I give him my patience: my knowledge and my experience as I put together the puzzle of his complex, nine-month hospital admission in a fifteen-minute acute visit.
I give her my compassion: as I politely but firmly tell her that I am not willing to prescribe chronic opiates for her fibromyalgia and depression.
I am fourteen. I am in a children’s hospital waiting room to see a plastic surgeon. I am here because of a surgical scar on my abdomen that has caused pain while doing sit-ups. This has not prevented my father and me from making a requisite number of jokes about the type of plastic surgery I am to receive.
By the time the blood vessel burst in the back of my dad’s brain, my nine siblings and I had multiplied to a mob of in-laws and twenty-three grandkids. We clogged the waiting room as we paced, switching from seat to seat, talking to one another and making sure our mom was okay.
Ma was a feisty woman who juggled many tasks and got everything done to perfection. She boasted that her kitchen and bathroom floors were “clean enough to eat off of” and that no one could make a brisket as tender as hers. In addition to cleaning, cooking and doing other household jobs, Ma worked full-time at a local children’s store. Nothing ever slowed her down.