Sharon Goretsky
President, Hadassah Southern Seaboard

Keeping vigil for my daughters, including those of my heart

Photo of the author and her daughter courtesy of the author.
Photo of the author with her daughter Abby and their dog Oscar supplied by the author.

Seventy-four days. That’s how long my daughter has been in the hospital since she had what should have been a simple, routine surgery. Complication after complication. No one’s fault, just freak things.

So, here I sit, in the emergency room (ER) once again, watching her sleep. I observe her breathing, which is irregular. I listen to her moan in her sleep, knowing that she’ll soon wake up crying from pain, which she rates as an “11” on a 0-10 scale. The nurse will come in to give her strong pain medication and she’ll drift back to sleep until it wears off in a few hours. Then we get to do it all again. The watching, the moaning, the pain, the sleep.

My daughter, who is only 22 years old, had just moved into her first apartment one week earlier when, suddenly, she needed emergency surgery.

Since then, unpacked boxes have sat in her cute apartment downtown. Her plan had been to decorate the all-white apartment in shades of pink and to cover the walls with images of the evil eye and with chamsas, symbols that protect against evil.

Instead, she suffers in pain, going through procedure after procedure, saddled with IVs and drains and needing oxygen to keep her lip color the same pink as the furnishings she should be buying to decorate her apartment.

In January, my husband went to great lengths to change his busy work schedule to make it possible for me to attend Hadassah’s mid-winter meeting in Florida. He sat by our daughter’s bedside, day and night, while I learned all about the amazing medical breakthroughs at the Hadassah Medical Organization, which comprises Hadassah’s world-class research hospitals in Jerusalem. I heard about the tremendous advocacy work Hadassah is doing right here in the United States and how, during one of Israel’s darkest times, Hadassah is helping young people flourish at our youth villages.

Best of all, I got to spend time with a couple of hundred of my Hadassah sisters — some of them fellow region presidents, others fellow members of Hadassah’s Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Council. Many took the time to come over to me, give me a hug and ask how my daughter and I were doing.

After over ten weeks of sleeping in recliners next to my daughter’s hospital bed and being awakened by various beeps, buzzers and the sound of blood pressure cuffs every four hours, I realized something: I’m so lucky! I am able to stay by my daughter’s side and, as a nurse practitioner, I can advocate effectively for her in the health-care world.

While my daughter sleeps, I spend hours on end scrolling through social media, faced with posting after posting about the Hamas-Israel War. With each picture of a beautiful woman, young or older, wounded, murdered or held hostage, I cry some more.

While I sit on a hard, straight-back chair in the ER, waiting for my daughter to be moved to a room with yet another lumpy recliner, I know that Ayelet Levy Shachar can only imagine the suffering her daughter Naama is going through as a hostage of Hamas. This chair may hurt my back, but Liora Argarmani, who is literally dying of Stage Four brain cancer, lives with the pain of not knowing what has happened to her daughter, Noa. I know that my daughter is getting her medications and that her dressings are being changed to avoid infection, but Romi Gonen’s mother doesn’t know if her daughter is getting any medical care for the gunshot wound to the hand she sustained before she was taken hostage.

Naama, Noa, Romi, Liri, Karina, Agam, Shiri, Amit, Carmel, Daniella, Doran, Judy, Arbel, Eden. Each of these 14 women has someone in Israel who is not lucky enough to know if her daughter, wife, sister or mother is in pain. Is she getting sufficient food and medicine? (That’s not likely, given it must come from Hamas and the International Committee of the Red Cross.) Is she even alive, and, if so, what unspeakable torture awaits her daily?

For Naama, Noa, Romi, Liri, Karina, Agam, Shiri, Amit, Carmel, Daniella, Doran, Judy, Arbel and Eden, I will say a Misheberach, the prayer for healing, every day. I will include their names along with my daughter’s as I ask G-d to protect and heal their bodies, their minds and their souls. Until they are freed, their names will be in my heart as if they were my own daughters. I will make sure others know their names, as well.

Since I finished writing this blog post, it has been 75 days in the hospital for my daughter by blood and 139 days in captivity for the daughters of my heart. Bring them home now!

About the Author
Sharon Goretsky is region president of Hadassah Southern Seaboard, sits on the National Board as a region president representative and is a member of Hadassah’s Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Council and the Hadassah Writers’ Circle. She has Zionism in her genes. Her grandfather coordinated the collection and shipment of supplies for the Jewish defense organizations in pre-state Israel, and her great-aunt was a strong supporter of Hadassah and its dental school in Jerusalem, having raised significant funds for both. Sharon is a nurse practitioner and lives with her husband and family in Virginia. Her daughters are 5th generation Hadassah members. While Hadassah’s hospitals initially inspired Sharon to get involved in the organization, she has found another passion in Hadassah’s advocacy work both in the US and Israel. Sharon is proud to be a life member of Hadassah.
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