I have come to describe my life as “before December 18, 2018,” and “after December 18, 2018.” Before that date, I was a normal, relatively introverted, fairly easy-going mother who enjoyed being outdoors, learning Daf Yomi, and just hanging with friends. I loved my job. But on December 18, 2018, the ground beneath me shifted – and my life hasn’t been the same since. After that date I became a fierce advocate for my son, spending nearly all my time dealing with his medical issues, plowing ahead at full speed with a single, determined focus.
December 18 started out like any other day — until a terrorist shot my 19-year old son Nathaniel in the head because he was an IDF soldier. He spent two and a half months in the ICU fighting for his life, and has been in intense rehab ever since, with ongoing hospitalizations, medical emergencies, and to top it off, corona. It was an ICU nurse who told me that my life would forever be defined as “before” and “after.” Boy, was she right…
Nathaniel has made great strides with his rehabilitation, but still remains completely dependent on others for even his most basic needs. Taking care of him and managing his care is quite intense, even with full-time caregivers and help and support from friends and family. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there is a “normal” world out there.
In the “before” time (and before the coronavirus), I liked to travel. Each time I heard the pre-flight reminder to “Place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others,” I would think, “What mother would do that naturally?” That’s exactly why the message must be given before each flight. It actually makes sense, if you think about it. If you can’t breathe, you cannot take care of anyone else.
This is a perfect analogy for my situation. I need to force myself to take care of me — so I can take better care of my son. This is not so easy to do.
Reading benign Facebook posts helps to quiet the noise in my head: lots of funny jokes/puns, birthday greetings, news of long lost friends, and the occasional announcement.
One announcement that caught my eye came from my friend Barbara, an executive and personal coach. She was organizing a new adventure: Hiking with Intention. At first, I just ignored it, but then thought, “Hey, what do I have to lose? Hiking with people I don’t know, seeing the sights of my beloved country – what could be bad?” Well, I was in for a wonderful surprise: hiking with a small group of interesting women (plus the husband of the guide) from all over the country turned out to be just what I needed.
The hike lasted about five hours and covered approximately eight kilometers of easy terrain. Barbara told us to choose a partner when we began and gave us a thought-provoking topic to discuss. It’s funny how walking in unfamiliar territory can open up unknown thoughts.
Barbara led a discussion when we stopped along the route. After a lunch break, our next activity was to walk slowly without talking, to just enjoy the great outdoors and our inner thoughts.
I am usually a fast walker, so hiking slowly was a challenge for me. I found that walking slowly required more balance, but allowed me to enjoy little things along the way. Losing one’s balance may cause you to fall. The challenge is to get up again and keep going. The benefit is in seeing beauty along the way.
Perhaps this is a metaphor for my life, both before and after December 18, 2018.