Sunday, September 19, 2010

Break Fast

Tonight, we celebrated break fast at the hospital with my mother, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who made it possible. The list is far too many to name everyone, but it includes our guests and so many on the hospital staff. The night was perfect...well, *almost* perfect, and I say *almost* only because there were a few people unable to be there with us.

Yom Kippur is perhaps the holiest day in the Jewish year. It is known as the Day of Atonement...the day when Jews all over the world fast and seek forgiveness from those in our lives and from G-d in order to atone for our sins. According to Jewish tradition, it is also the day in which our fate for the upcoming year is "sealed." We ask for ourselves and those in our lives to be "sealed for a good and happy new year" as we wish for good health, prosperity, happiness and love.

During services, we list a variety of sins (44, I believe) that we may have committed throughout the year (such as: under duress or willingly, by hard-heartedness, with an utterance of the lips, by deceipt, by improper thoughts, by disrespect, etc.) and ask for G-d to "forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement." We also recite a prayer that lays out sins from A to Z for which we seek forgiveness for ourselves and our community:

ASHAMNU: we have been guilty.

BAGADNU: we have betrayed.

GAZALNU: we have stolen.

DIBARNU DOFI: we have spoken falsely.

HE'EVINU: we have caused others to sin.

V'HIRSHANU: we have caused others to do evil.

ZADNU: we have had evil hearts.

CHAMASNU: we have become violent.

TAFALNU SHEQER: we have attached lies.

YA'ATZNU RA: we have advised evil.

KIZAVNU: we have lied.

LATZNU: we have scoffed.

MARADNU: we have rebelled.

NI'ATZNU: we have been scornful.

SARARNU: we have been disobedient.

AVINU: we have been perverse, that is, intentionally doing a sin to fulfill an appetite.

PASHANU: we have transgressed.

TZARARNU: we have persecuted.

KISHINU OREF: we have been stiff-necked.

RASHANU: we have been lawless.

SHICHATNU: we have corrupted

TIAVNU: we have committed abominations.

TAINU: we have gone astray.

TITANU: we have been led astray.

SARNU: we have turned away from Your mitzvot.

At the conclusion of a long day of fasting, introspection and prayer, it is tradition to break the fast with friends and family. Generally, people break fast with light dairy foods...bagels, cream cheese, blintzes...and usually some sweet foods to represent a sweet new year.

I am at a loss to even attempt to describe what tonight meant for me and my family. I have previously mentioned that Yom Kippur has always felt like my mom's holiday. For our family, the tradition of breaking fast is marked by the gathering of our close friends and immediate family in my parents' home with all of these special holiday foods. Blintzes (in essence, a sweet-cheese filled crepe) are a traditional food, and we have been breaking fast with homemade blintzes (a recipe passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mother to me). We eat, we laugh, we talk, we enjoy, we catch up, and we grow together. It is an opportunity for all of us to see and be together, to look backwards and reminisce about our childhood and to look forward to the future as our families grow together.

It was amazing for all of our families to gather together again, and even more incredible for us to introduce our children (some to each other for the first time) to our tradition. I cannot tell you how much it meant to all of us to have everyone together again. Just to see all of our children together, growing up, and playing was incredible. It gave my mother (and all of us) a chance to meet a few of the babies she had not previously had a chance to see. At one point, my mom joked that it was like attending her own wake...and in many ways, it was. It was the gathering of our "family" for an opportunity to celebrate her life and tell her how much we love her in the best way we know how. It was important for all of us to have tonight together, and I think it was important for my mother, too. There is something both beautiful and comforting about being with close friends and family to honor a tradition.

I was up until almost 8 in the morning making blintzes (I guess that is what happens when you don't start cooking until 3 am, right?), and the kids did not wake up until 9:00 or so. My father woke up bright and early to run and pick up bagels for the event (I forgot to pre-order them). DH left for services around 10:30, my father arrived to join him a bit later, and the babysitter arrived at 11 to watch Micah while Maya and I went up to visit my mother at the hospital. Traffic was heavy, and I did not think I would ever get to the hospital! During my trip, I called the hospital food services to coordinate our plans for the day. When I arrived at the hospital, I was faced with new heightened security at the entrance (in response to the shooting a few days ago). I was not supposed to enter through the garage, but the security guard took pity on me and agreed to call for an escort so that I could drop the food off at the Rehab wing and walk through the hospital to the main entrance to check in instead of walking around the outside of the building with the baby and all the food.

After checking in, I sat with my mother while she finished lunch. She seemed a bit sleepy, but she was in much less discomfort today. I read her the blog and your messages, and we talked...some of it bittersweet. My mom again expressed how shocking this situation is, and sadness because she thought she had longevity on her side with our family history. She also said that she can hear herself sounding like Grammy used to, and that she knows that no matter what happens, things will never go back to how they were before. We talked about her desire to travel, and I said that the only limitation was her strength.

Mom seemed to tolerate day #2 of chemo quite well again - no apparent side effects. Mom took some time to kiss little Miss Maya, and we had a wonderful conversation with my mom's nurse, Donna. Donna was amazing today. She decided to head over to the dining room early and try and make it special for us...she took sheets to cover the tables and brought over all the flowers from mom's room to decorate the space for us. Thank you, Donna, for adding so much to this event for us!

At 3:30, I met with the woman from food services. She brought us a food cart, promised to return at 4:00 with a hot box for our food, arranged to meet with us at 4:30 to cook the blintzes and deliver the coffee and water for our use. While I was talking to the woman from food services, I ran into the recreational therapist. We talked about some games that would benefit my mother after she leaves the hospital, and a few assistive devices for doing her activities (she showed me a card holder and a device to attach to my mother's hand to help with crocheting).

My father and DH arrived around 3:40 pm with bagels, orange juice, blintzes and Micah in tow. We unloaded the car (and the security guard let them in once he realized they already had bracelets from the front desk and were with me). While we were unloading, I got a text that some of our guests had arrived, so I sent DH downstairs with the food carts to help unload their cars, too.

The ladies immediately went to work arranging the room and setting up all the food. They did an incredible job. We served all the food buffet-style (we used the therapy table, a food cart, and an air hockey table for the food). DH and I left at 4:30 to go to the kitchen to cook the blintzes. I stayed there for about 30 minutes (it took a while to prep the blintzes for cooking and get the oven warmed up). DH took a break to conduct the concluding service for Yom Kippur (Neilah), and when he returned, I went back upstairs to nurse the baby while he plated up the blintzes.

When I returned to the dining room, everyone was there and all the food was set up on the tables. The room looked incredible, and it was fantastic to see everyone together. DH came up with the blintzes a bit later, and we brought my mother in to start the celebration.

Despite the fact that we held the event at the hospital, we did it exactly as my mother always did things. I cannot even describe the quantity of food on the table - you'll have to wait and see the pictures. We had cheese plates, egg salad, tuna fish, blintzes, kugel, bagels, cream cheese, lox, whitefish salad, fruit salad, and so many desserts! Perhaps the biggest surprise...the shrimp and chicken egg rolls. Yes, I did say shrimp and chicken egg rolls...not exactly a traditional break fast food. A few of my mom's co-workers arrived for a visit as we were setting up, and one of them brought homemade eggrolls for my mom!! It was a wonderful visit, and my mom is always happy to see her co-workers. All I can say is that my mom was SOOO excited to eat the egg rolls (and all I heard were rave reviews from everyone who tasted them) and we were so glad that they were able to join our celebration for a little while.

Towards the end of our evening, we invited the rest of the staff from the Rehab floor to come join us and eat. Several of them did take advantage of our invitation, and we also left them with all of our leftover desserts. As the evening wrapped up, the ladies were hard at work wrapping up all the food and dividing up the leftovers.

For me, it was impressive how well all of our children behaved. They all seemed to have a wonderful time playing, both in the courtyard and in the family dining room and lounge. We only had 2 minor incidents with the children (at least that I saw)...Micah scared Nina early in the night (he yelled at her and pushed her, and all she did was look at him!) and Stella fell and scraped her knees playing in the courtyard. The Rehab staff gave us some saline, gauze and bandaids, and we did our best to patch her up. Some of the children started to melt down around 7:15, but most made it to the end around 8:00. We left around 8:30, and made great time getting home.

My Dad called the hospital and Mom was asleep and resting comfortably as of 11:00, I believe. I hope that she has a peaceful night, and we will be back up there tomorrow. I forgot to double check my mother's therapy schedule tomorrow, but she does have a full day of therapy. If you are thinking of coming up for a visit, just double check with us during the day to make sure you arrive at a good time!

So, thank you, again, to all who made tonight possible. It is filled with wonderful new memories for us, and we are all so moved by the massive effort that was put forth by all of you to just be there at the hospital with us. My mother said the evening was perfect, so for me, it was worth everything. May you all be sealed in the Book of Life for a good, sweet, healthy and prosperous year.

1 comment:

Prather Family said...

Thanks for sharing and explaining in the ins out outs of your religion. I'm glad things went well for your mother and you could all celebrate at the hosptial together as a family. Wishing your mom well and hoping for peace and comfort for her.