Last week my son fell sick. It started out innocuously enough. He went to soccer practice, and came home complaining of pain in his feet. I figured his shoes were too tight, and googled "fallen arches." The next day it was worse. And the day after that, the pain was even worse, and had moved from the soles of his feet up through his feet, ankles, calves, knees... His skin was so sensitive that the weight of his bedsheets made him cry. He couldn't walk or stand. We went to the emergency room.
He was tentatively diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a relatively rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system. I learned new medical jargon, like "self-limiting," which means that the condition would eventually run its course, much like a virus. I learned the Hebrew words for "antibodies" and "spinal tap."
Everything else fell away: work, deadlines, errands, to-do lists. Rosh Hashanah? Huh? I forgot about it entirely. The universe contracted: Nothing in the world but my son, and helping him through the painful and frightening days. I love that child fiercely and fully. I celebrated when he swallowed soup. I cheered when he wiggled his toes.
He is home now, after a mere six days in the hospital. In the past 48-hours, he's made astonishing progress. Not only can he eat a few bites -- he's wolfing down whole meals. Not only can he wiggle his toes -- he can walk. He can walk!
I could fly.
The human organism is miraculous. Western medicine -- miraculous. Nurses, doctors, hospital staff -- angels, every one (with the dubious exception of the MRI tech. He was a jerk. But the fact that I didn't clock him was a miracle. That counts, right?)
I don't know how to write about this without being maudlin, without falling into cliche. There are worse things, right? Because during this past week, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we have received from near and far. Friends who showed up and talked to my kid about soccer so that he forgot he was in pain. Classmates who sent cards and came to visit, so he felt strong and himself even when it was rough going. Neighbors, friends, and teachers who offered to look after our girls, so we could focus on our son and not have to worry. You sent him a life-size balloon man! and made him smile. You said prayers in his name on Shabbat. You called and sent messages, related your experiences with GBS, and helped make a scary-sounding French-named disease intelligible. You freed us from every worry, every care, except the ones that mattered most.
Family, friends, community: These are everyday miracles of which we are blessed to be a part. Thank you all so much for helping us through. You made all the difference.
I did nothing to prepare for the holiday this year. No zippy artwork or greeting cards, no Shanah Tovah greetings for my clients and friends. But my son is home for the holiday, and that is much more than enough.
With this New Year upon us, I wish you all the blessings of the mundane, the joy of the humdrum, and the miracle of the routine. May you know the bliss of boredom, the sublime sweetness of the workaday, the commonplace, the ordinary. Wishing you all health and safety, connection and community, and the simple pleasure of spending quiet moments with the ones you love. Shanah tovah!