When the list gets longer and longer, there is nothing else I feel I can do, but cry. Nope, not talking the list of all my household chores, like all the laundry that seems to replenish and multiply like Gremlins. I am not talking about the shopping or doctor’s appointments for kids, or other various domestic tasks.
I am referring to the list of friends and family members that I am currently praying for because they are ill. And, so I cry because I’ve already prayed, I’ve already baked and taken challah, I’ve already said tehillim (special prayers) and yet the list continues to grow.
It just isn’t fair.
While I raise my fists to the heavens I am sad, and hurting. I want Him to be compassionate yet can He when he confuses us so, by forcing us to raise our voices in sheer agony over loss of choice? Our friends and family members are sick, not because they were eating unhealthy, or did drugs, or were careless and jumped off a bridge as a stunt. Cancer that already claimed her stomach, that took a vacation and now has claimed its stake once again on her delicate frame of a body. A virus that shuts down the organs of a 1-year-old, causing months of surgeries and procedures in the hopes that a miracle will occur and this baby will heal and live a long and healthy lifestyle. The list goes on, but I reserve the details because it’s too much to bear writing it all it out. Its hard enough that all these negative and awful things are filling my head day and night and the list continues to grow.
I’m angry and sad. I’m torn and confused. We beg and we plead. We can punch a bag or a wall or scream. But what I do best, is cry. My anger goes nowhere. It doesn’t help make me feel any better.
Today I had a wonderful vacation day with the kids (for about 1 hour). We went to see the stalactite caves. They fought on the way there, the entire trip, which was only 30 minutes. They whined as we waited to hear our number called to enter with our group. They complained the 150 stairs going down toward the cave. We watched a short film, that they could not understand because the Hebrew was way too fast and quite scientific. Finally we entered the cave. Very flipping cool. They installed new lighting so all these colored lights faced the formations, and changed colors as we watched the cool dripping ‘macaroni’ spikes turn from violet to blue and then to green and yellow, then orange and slightly pink until once again to violet. Even though the instructor repeatedly informed us not to use flash photography leave it up to us to not know how our camera works…and even though someone claims to have turned off the flash…yowzers did we get in trouble. We were warned that if we did it again, he’d take it from us. So that was embarrassing and everyone stared at us screaming, NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY!! in Heebs. Yes, I did feel like crying but I held back. I tried not letting it ruin our adventure. Also a BIG NO-NO was touching the formations, no matter how close they were to us. I was paranoid and kept grabbing little hands that were wandering close to the rope that separated us from years of cool drippage. The kids shouted out that they saw forms that looked like melting ice cream or The Capital (shout out D.C), or a toad or feet or snake-skin (yay imagination). We felt accomplished at the end and a bit dehydrated as we walked back up the 150 stairs to the top. We tried to help someone with a flat tire. We ate through 16 bags of chips, 7 apples, 2 oranges, a sleeve of cookies and some pretzels on the way home. All was A-OK until we reached the neighborhood, and all of a sudden…
…he noticed she was touching his leg. She felt her kicking the back of her seat. He pinched her. She was hungry. Her head hurt. He was so hot and so on for the 10 minutes until we reached the house. I asked everyone to carry something in and I got…but I’m so tired. My legs hurt. My mosquito bites are itchy, My blah blah blah is whatever, I stopped listening. I reminded them not to ruin a really fun day, that we were finishing it off with hot dogs and french fries and that everyone needed to help out in order to make things go faster.
And so while they set the table, I grabbed the Tylenol. I put the fries in the oven, I read my email. Why did I read my email? Why why why? And there it was. Bad news. That made me cry instantly. Sure I had a whole day full of frustrations that were just waiting and brimming but that one email was a blow to the heart. And so I cried. Am still crying. Even though “Paco” (aka #5) is bringing me pretend prizes and I am smiling as I ‘unwrap’ the Curious George, the felt flower, the Superman doll, the plastic backpacks, the finger puppet of a plastic dog…I am so sad.
What else can we do? I am feeling forlorn. Why does it feel like He has left us alone?
I know the answer. I know we must seek Him out and beg Him not to forget about us. I know we must be patient and pray and cry out to Him to have mercy on us. I look around at my ‘prizes’ and my healthy children and know I am blessed, that these terrible things have not happened to my personal family, yet it feels just as bad. It feels that I have lost something and I wonder how much more I can do or say the same things to help change the decree He has set forth. I know He is not bound by time, but we are. It feel like it’s already been so long. I am tired and weary of asking the same things over and over. I hope the day comes quickly when I get good news in my email, that these special people are given a clean bill of health and I can just cry about my lists of groceries or the line at the post office, or the bills to pay.
I am really looking forward to Oct. 18th when I’ll probably cry at my niece’s wedding. Like I said, I cry all the time…it comes easily for me, I am that sensitive. It helps me feel better even though I know it changes nothing. I do love my neighbor as I love myself. This is why it’s so hard to take in.
The third verse in Pirkei Avot (Teachings of our Fathers) reads:
“He (Antignus) used to say: Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving an award (prize)…And let the awe of Heaven be upon you.”
We serve G-d for the sole purpose of His greatness and not because we want a reward. Why would we receive the awe of Heaven and not G-d Himself? I read this answer and it helps me understand why I felt so alone and as if my prayers were being unanswered.
“The feeling of awe comes with the realization that G-d, on Whom we depend for our existence, is extremely distant. When we consider that the Holy One, Blessed is He, is in the Heavens while we are on earth, then the fear of Heaven grips us and the love of G-d will not nullify it.”
While G-d is all the way in Heaven and we are so distant here on earth we must continue to cry out so that He hears our pain, our wishes, our needs, our desires. My own children cry and whine repeatedly about the same thing and eventually I give in, if it’s not bad for them, I want them to be happy. I am not comparing myself to the Almighty, but as parents we guide our children, we give in when we can and when we say no, or He says no, it’s okay to cry. I refer back to the second verse.
“The world depends on three things: on Torah study, on the service [of G-d], and on kind deeds.”
So today I fulfilled all three of these things, and all I can do now is cry. May I be granted the strength to continue to pray for those less fortunate than me. Please keep in mind these names when praying.
Rachel bas Rivka Leah (Rachel the daughter of Rebecca Leah), Tzuriyah Kochevet bat Sarah (Stella the daughter of Sarah)