Mori Sokal

Gifts God Gives Us

Last night my thoughts were of twilight, the in-between place where we have been living while our mother is dying. Part of what has been so hard is that while we take care of her, we almost don’t want to take care of ourselves. But God gave me the gift of having to also take care of my children, which has caused me to take care of myself for them.

My mother can’t eat and part of me wants to join her, but I make sure my daughter is eating and I tell myself (and my sisters) “You must eat too!” so I do.

It is strange to see that life goes on even while it is ending; a disturbing dichotomy.

But the fact that I can be here with my sisters, that is another gift.

Yesterday morning my mother had a high fever and was unresponsive. We were sure this was the beginning of the end. We took turns sitting with her, and at one point we were all there together, singing old songs she had sang or played for us in our childhood. We even enjoyed his time, I think, though it was bittersweet.

I took the late shift last night of checking on her and making sure she was comfortable and pain free. I was beyond tired, like the point during labor that came with each child when I told my husband I just couldn’t. Of course, I always did. Somehow I found the strength God had given me to continue, to push through the hard part and get to the miracle that is each of my children. Here too, The aide came to give me a break but I sent her away and decided to stay with my mother and do the care giving myself for just a little longer.

Then suddenly, at 5 am, she opened her eyes and started talking. She was able to say she loved me, to smile at me, and to understand and respond to me telling her how many visitors and phone calls she had yesterday. I called one sister down and the other on the phone, so both were able to share this wonderful time.

She finally needed to rest again after two hours, but I couldn’t help thinking what an incredible gift we were given.

As I said this morning’s Modeh Ani, I thought about how I love hearing children say this, but happily they don’t really understand what they are saying.

We are being given another day to live! To be with each other, to love, to do a kindness for another person. For those of us who can hear, see, touch and smell — this is amazing! If we can also walk and talk — beyond great.

I think many of us are guilty of wasting time and not realizing what we have, even when it’s hard; maybe especially then.

Today I received the gift of another day with my mother, with my family, and that is something for which I am truly grateful.

It is the hard times that enable us to find our strength and to appreciate all the other gifts God gives us, every day, every hour.

I know the sunrise gives way to day, as the sunset turns into what may look like a dark night, although there may be a sky decorated with stars. But when we sit through the night, we see the sun again, if we are given that gift.

I know what is coming will be one of the hardest things I will have to go through. I hope and pray to see the beautiful sunrise on the other side.

And to my dear friends and family, who have been asking what you can do for me, for us; you are doing it. I may be too “faklempt” to talk to you, but knowing you are reading what I write and seeing your words of love and encouragement are also the most wonderful gifts. Thank you.

About the Author
Mori Sokal is a SIXTEEN year veteran of Aliyah, mother of three wonderful children (with her wonderful husband) and is an English teacher in both elementary and high school in the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem area. She has a Masters’ degree in teaching, is a copy editor, and has published articles in Building Blocks, the Jewish Press magazine.
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