There is too much drama in my life. I really, truly want a dull, uneventful life...
Before my husband died, when I would hear or read stories of people dying suddenly due to accidents or freak occurrences, I would wonder how their loved ones - spouses, parents, children, siblings - reacted initially to the news. I would wonder how they got on with their lives. I would then wonder, what if that happened to me? How would I react? Would I cry buckets of tears? Would I pray to Hashem for a different verdict? Would I be angry? Calm? Numb? Then, I would pray that I would never have to find out how I would react.
Unfortunately, the answer to that prayer was no. I would find out. On January 14, 2009 I received the phone call that would change my life, the call in which I was informed that my husband had fallen and seriously injured himself. A second call, made by myself, to the hospital, confirmed that he'd been brought in with a "major brain bleed". It was then that I knew, I would never see him again, not alive and well. So, even though, when the surgeon came out and told me he had no hopes for Mr. Stern's recovery, and even though I took it hard, it was a very brief cry. Except for that, I cried very little and I was calm. All the way through the first week while he languished in the hospital and through the second week in which I and his whole family sat shiva, I was calm. I smiled and talked with my visitors. I ate, slept, and talked. I talked, a lot, about Barry. But I was calm. No tears. At night, the loneliness was very heavy on me. Right from the first night...I was lonely. The aloneness and the loneliness were very, very heavy on me.
But I always felt somewhat guilty. I felt guilty that I had not dropped to my knees and prayed with all my might to Hashem to change the verdict. I felt that my faith in Hashem was not strong enough and so I was thus unable to do that.
Since Barry died though, I have felt Hashem's presence. Even through the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad two years in which I was treated so terribly by his family, I felt Hashem's presence in my life and the Hashgacha Pratis which defined so much of my life then. I still feel His presence and I am still benefitting greatly from His Hashgacha Pratis. My faith in Hashem, since Barry's death, has grown.
This past Chag that faith was again tested. And once again, I had an opportunity to learn how I would respond. Before I continue with this story, let me reassure my readers that no one died, and B"H, everyone is just fine, 100% fine! Here is what happened:
It was about one hour before Chag. We (me and Chloe and Jonathan and Gavriel) were in Nof Ayalon, staying at my mechutenet's home. Everyone was there, including Jonathan's married brother David and his wife, Ruchel, and their baby Tzvi. I was just heading upstairs to get dressed when I heard a scream. I paused a moment on the stairs wondering if I should investigate. I decided to go down and just check on what had happened. I went downstairs and saw everyone in the dining room. My daughter Chloe had Gavriel in her arms. Everyone was sort of crowded around her and him. I went closer. This is what I saw: I saw Gavriel's face was blue, his eyes were closed, and he was floppy and nonresponsive. I perceived somehow that he had fallen and hit his head (on the floor? I was not sure of that). I jumped to the conclusion that the knock on his head had been hard enough to knock him out cold.
Now, knowing that was how my husband died, that was a terrible thing for me to see. Chloe screamed "Breathe!" at him, and he did! He breathed, but looked totally out of it and his eyes were hooded. I screamed, "Oh My G-d!" at which point Chloe yelled at me, "Get away from me!" (my reaction had made her more frightened) and then she ran with Gavriel to the pediatrician who lived across the street.
I, in shock, just fell to my knees, screaming, crying, and....praying. I was praying aloud, like I had never prayed before. I was begging, pleading with Hashem.
After a while, I calmed myself a bit (still ROILING inside, with adrenaline still pumping through me) and managed to go over to the doctor too. Chloe still did not want me there, my presence made her nervous and she wanted to be calm. Finally, though, as we were leaving, with the doctor telling us he was fine, I asked what had actually happened.
Well, what had happened was far different from what I had imagined. Gavriel was running around the kitchen. The oven door was opened, and it was at the same height as his head. Chloe saw he was about to run right into it, so she reached out to push him out of harms way. She was able to reach him and do so, but he hit the oven door anyway -- and that knocked him down and he hit his head a second time, on the floor.
He started to cry, mouth open, but no sound. In his shock from pain he forgot to breathe. After a bit he passed out, but seconds later revived. A nurse friend of mine explained what had happened thus: "It is very very frightening when they
hit their heads-but it was a very normal physiological reaction for him to pass
out momentarily-basically it is a way for his body to re-set ....he was so
scared that he couldn't breathe for a few second, but of course he has to
breathe and his body knows this and so he loses conciousness momentarily so
that his fear is bypassed and he can start breathing again."
This was such a traumatic event -- both for me and for my daughter. We both agreed we hope NEVER to experience this again. However, we were told that some babies do this a lot. I hope Gavriel is NOT one of those...my poor heart can't take it!