0 s • • • • • e OOOOO • OOOOOOOOO
a guide to simchahs
It was the first Shabbat after his Jewish birthday. The sun streamed through the
stained-glass windows and lit the top of his little head. Richard and I joined him in the
aliyah, Mischa's first and my first.
I had been bat mitzvah at a time when a girl did something on Friday night but was
not called to the Torah. Despite my involvement in temple and a fairly observant life, I
had never wanted to take an aliyah. But for this child it was different, he needed to do
this with his parents.
He was more nervous than he needed to be; he was prepared and ready and it
didn't have to be perfect, and it wasn't, but the moment was.
The dear female rabbi knew Mischa and had been his teacher. She spoke to him
so lovingly and tied the sedrah into his experience perfectly. Since we didn't know we
were going to do anything this Shabbat morning, she had no warning either and didn't
need it. It was short, it was lovely and special.
Mischa told me we was hungry, and off to the temple kitchen he went for a bagel.
He had been too nervous that morning to eat. For days afterward, he and I would look
at each other and smile and say, "You did it; it was great!"
We really hadn't entertained in the 10 years since Mischa was diagnosed. Maybe a
barbeque or a kid's party, but nothing with trays and hot dishes and flowers.
Richard didn't get into gear until a few days before. He is accustomed to deadlines,
and does not start until he is ready. The night before the party he just stayed up all
This time, we couldn't afford a caterer or a party out. The ravages of a chronic ill-
ness and the special needs that a child like this has in terms of equipment, appoint-
ments, travel to those appointments and just plain extra time has drained us dry.
I could not be prouder of this bar mitzvah boy. He has done everything they usually
do. While his service was short, and his strength was not mastery of foreign language,
the strength of his personality and his witty chuckle charmed us all.
And now, three weeks later, we prepare for the next MRI of his brain. I am the same
basket case I always am. I worry about the anesthesia, I worry about the waking up, I
worry about waiting for the results. Ten years and multiple times hasn't changed things
But Mischa and I are closer now. We have weathered this bar mitzvah year together.
We saw it, we identified what we would do about it and he did it. We celebrated his
achievement and his survival and now we wait.
We thank God for bringing us to this day and for bringing us three such different
souls to raise and enjoy. Twenty-five years ago, when Richard and I married, we expect-
ed relative ease ... jobs, family, but not a lot of drama. Instead, we have known the joy
of birth, the heaven of adoption, the pain of losing parents and seeing them linger.
We know the tear of a child moving away, the joy of seeing another child perform to
perfection and entertain many.
We know the heartbreak of losing a home, fighting debt, some illnesses of our own.
But this journey, this one to 13 with this child, is something completely different.
I'm on the brain tumor Web with the other mothers, who show steel in their souls
every day, weaving their way through hospitals and schools, never really knowing it you
are doing too little or doing too much.
On the phone with the Jewish cancer moms, we speak differently. We are just as
militant, but we are superstitious and never speak of the future. We are a study of liv-
ing in the moment.
I feel differently now. I saw God when I delivered Samantha. I saw God when I saw
Jacob in a tiny carrier in a tiny white onesie with a gold star on it. I felt God on my
I saw God when my parents died, once when two observant men came to take my
father away from the hospital, and heard God in the last phone conversation with my
On that first Shabbat last December, I saw God again in the warm sunlight reflect-
ing off of my son's hair, long since grown back, but always a messy halo around a face
made chubby by so many medications.
How perfect that the rabbi knew just what to say. How wonderful to have the sun
warm us when we needed it so. ri
The Dresser family lives in Bay City
Celebrate this milestone by doing
Mitzvah Work for those in need!
Fulfill 6 hours of community mitzvah service at Yad Ezra
Receive a Yad Ezra Candle that you can light at your
celebration and remember those less fortunate
Enjoy your simcha knowing that you have made a
difference in the lives of those less fortunate
Please consider enhancing your mitzvah by donating 3%
of the cost of your simcha to Yad Ezra to ensure that no
Jewish adult or child suffers from hunger.
Call Yad Ezra at (248) 548 - 3663
or visit our web site, www.yadezra.org ,
to find out how you can be a part of
this special opportunity!
feeekhg the Jewish I-- /otgry
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