Yearly anniversaries mark both joyous and sad events. Each additional year takes one further from the actual event. Yet, when the yearly anniversary is acknowledged the time factor is suspended as one vividly recalls and relives what happened on that day. While memories still linger, the anniversary pulls the essence of the experience into sharper focus.
Three years ago this week, my life was thrown off balance when my husband, Ira, suffered a catastrophic ski accident. Hovering over him in the ER, I did not know at first whether the Angel of Death was nearby or faraway. I wasn’t ready to say my final good bye. I could only pray that everything would be okay. Recovering from a traumatic brain injury, an induced coma, and a shattered shoulder can be an uphill battle. Ira’s spirit prevailed. He sailed through the recovery process with minimal aftereffects.
Ira was lucky. Our family’s good fortune cannot mask the repercussions of this medical trauma. We realize the precarious nature of life and feel extremely grateful for each day that we can share together.
As I look forward to the start of Passover next week, I think back to the seder that occurred just days after Ira’s accident. The memory of Ira’s accident is intricately tied together with with Passover. In May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, I talk about our Passover celebration at the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. I’d like to share an excerpt.
It was a miracle. Ira could hardly gather his thoughts in a meaningful way one day and the following day he was sitting at the head of the table leading a Passover seder in English and in Hebrew. The meager spread of foods did not dampen our spirits. We read and sang songs without giving a second thought to the hospital surroundings. One of Ira’s favorite songs, “Dayenu” (which translates as “It Would Have Sufficed” or “We Would Have Been Satisfied”), took on a new layer of meaning. We were grateful that our lives were not shattered by Ira’s accident and that we were still together as a family.
Ira remained alert during most of the evening, except for two or three times when he nodded off. As Aaron went around adding some wine for the fourth cup of wine, everyone was smiling. On Friday afternoon, who would have imagined that this would be possible?
Ira smiled as he read the part titled “Conclusion of the Seder.” The closing line—next year in Jerusalem—and the singing of the corresponding song in Hebrew seemed to evoke an unanticipated sense of euphoria.
When we finished the song, I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “What were you thinking while we were singing, ‘L’shana haba’ah b’yrushalayim?
“I’m not exactly sure. I’m just content to be alive, to be here with you, and to have a future.”
We all felt the same way. Just a handful of days before, Ira’s entire existence and future were in limbo. If he had died, his past would have been reduced to our memories. By remaining alive, Ira’s past was once again merged with the present. He would remain part of our family’s future.
Near the conclusion of the seder, as everyone was singing “Chad Gadya” in Hebrew, my eyes drifted over to the English translation. I skimmed over the cumulative tale that illustrates how stronger creatures consume the weaker ones, ending with the Holy One overcoming death. To some, this song is symbolic of all the larger nations that have unsuccessfully tried to destroy the Jewish people. This Passover, I saw the song in a more personal light. Ira and I had endured varying degrees of adversity during our life together, some having more significant consequences than others. The agony of watching Ira’s motionless body in an induced coma was the latest episode, and our family was indeed fortunate that Ira had eluded the Angel of Death. Forces way beyond my grasp controlled his destiny and Ira had prevailed.
I encourage everyone-Jew and Gentile- to take time to appreciate their life. Each day is a gift that should be cherished.
Best wishes for a joyous Passover and an enjoyable Easter.
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.