Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Different Type of Preparation - How my stay in the hospital got me ready for Rosh Hashanah

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, at this time, as we approached the time for selichos, I was ready. I'd spent time going through Pachad Yitzchak on Rosh Hashanah, Rav Amiel's Yamim Noraim derashos, and some of Rav Kook's Orot HaTeshuva. I. Was. Ready.

This year, I did not prepare. I'd wanted to, but hadn't followed through as the trip to Israel I took with my son approached, and became a major focal point. I kept telling myself that I'd get around to learning and preparing (I sometimes mistakenly see those two as the same), but it didn't happen. The trip came along, went remarkably well, and I figured I'd get back into things during the week leading up to Selichos. I figured it would be a bit jarring to go from the high of trip to the mundane reality of "normal life", but I was ready for it. God had other plans for me.

If I thought that the difference between a trip to Israel and being home would be a bit challenging to navigate , going from my return home to the hospital in less than ten hours, was over the top. I had no time to come down from the high of the trip, or even to see each of our children who were home. Before I knew it, I was being rushed to the hospital by Hatzolah, as I writhed in pain.

When I was told that I had a large kidney stone, which would require me staying over in the hospital, and a medical procedure in the morning, I was rather devastated. I didn't have much time to process what made it so hard, but now that I'm home recovering, I do. 

Beyond sleeping in a noisy hospital room, shared by a stranger on the other side of a thin curtain (with a mouth like a truck driver, and a predilection for fantasy football), and the pain of the procedure, there was something deeply humbling in realizing how little I truly control. Having researched and planned the trip to Israel, I felt good knowing I could put together such a meaningful and fun experience for my son and I. Now, I wasn't even in control of my body, or even where I slept. As I've recovered, simple tasks feel overwhelming. I continue to feel somehow let down by my body. Beyond the physical healing, it will take me time to get past this. 

So here I am a year later, ready for Selichos in a very different way. Without the cerebral experience of opening a sefer, I'm aware of how little I control, and how much I depend on Hashem for everything. It's not the preparation that I would have chosen, but apparently it's the one I needed. 

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