I’d planned for zoos and skating-rinks, I’d planned for years of fun.
How can it be over, love? Just stay a little more.
There’s so much more to laugh about, adventures to explore.
How can it be over when the waiting took so long?
Can you come back? When? Soon, perhaps?
To home where you belong.
I can’t endure this “over”; the ache so hard to bear,
You’ll never be beyond my reach, tethered by a prayer.
Love stories do not always feature models and actors. In fact, those “stories” are just that. Fiction. Popcorn-and-soda diversions that fill our psyches with unrealistic expectations and dashed dreams.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the stories that do not merit screen-time, tales of simple men and women who live according to previously adopted standards of decency: Kindness, faith in a Higher Power, devoted life-partners, better futures for children who will, hopefully, help advance the quality of a warless world.
Several months ago, my friend’s daughter succumbed to the rare genetic disease that she’d been born with. Adopted by Sharon at birth, the heartbreaking outcome was predetermined; there would be no medical miracles or groundbreaking discoveries that might provide a technicolor, eleventh-hour rescue from the Jaws-of-Death for Ruthie.
Both mom and daughter had been active participants in the movement to find a cure for Fanconi anemia and they’d done a splendid job of chronicling both the struggles and joys that peppered their lives. Anyone in their social and/or Facebook orbit could only be inspired by the magical journey that took them to conferences and expos across the globe. As religious Jews, consideration for Sabbath observance and kosher-dining always played a role in their planning. Difficult? Not certain. Sharon and Ruthie made it work.
My husband recently underwent orthopedic surgery for an agonizing sports-injury. Nurturing does not come naturally to me but I gave it my best efforts during his hospitalization. Still, how many times can a testy wife tuck-in the blankets or raise and lower the bed rails? I felt grateful when he slept because it gave me time to walk the halls and observe other patients and their families. Once a yente, always a yente. I admit it.
Arabs, Jews, religious, secular, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, French, Russians, English-speakers and Ethiopians. Human connectedness played out in each ward, the respective participants all yearning for happy-endings. The hallways of Hadassah Medical Center are alive with prayer, hope, compassion and friendship. And, indeed, love. Apartheid? Please. Don’t even go there, not with this writer. Both patients and staff are amply represented despite what both CNN and Fox proport, camaraderie is rife. This doesn’t mean that political adversaries are dancing at one another’s weddings just because they both had hip-replacement on the same afternoon. It means that within the walls of the medical universe, families are celebrated and respected. That smiles count for everything and turning the television volume higher or lower can bridge divides that the United Nations is incapable of addressing. Moving a walker and offering your extra visitor’s chair to one who is, culturally, the ‘other’ is not only a common courtesy. In the Middle East, courtesy has the potential to bring peace, heal wounds and offer hope.
Love cannot be pigeon-holed into a few words or simple definitions. It is best exhibited through acts of giving and then, uh, giving a little more. Because giving of oneself allows for limitless action. Giving without expectation eliminates the fear of disappointment. Man-created/profit inspired calendar events such as “Valentine’s Day” become meaningless when we accept the task of giving of ourselves, without conditions.
New York native Andrea Simantov has lived in Jerusalem since 1995. She writes for several publications, appears regularly on Israel National Radio and owns an image consulting firm for women.