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Jerusalem: I asked for something to do

Rain IS a Blessing

jerusalemrain

Typical day: woke up around 7am when the sun finally warmed my room, thanked Hashem in that split second between being fully awake and still floating softly in my world of dreams, put my toes into yummy slippers, headed to the bathroom, wandered groggily into the kitchen, made delicious turkish coffee from the arab shuk.. then sat, surrounded by books and mountains, just breathing and reflecting. The day always hits once the coffee is mostly gone..

I made my way to Jerusalem sometime in the afternoon, driving along winding roads that were empty.. Clouds had gathered, turning the sky to a heavy grey. There is something about clouds in the desert.. something about the sky feeling so much closer and present. Tangible.. By the time I had entered Jerusalem, the clouds had simply melded together above darkened buildings and trees that looked helpless in the wind. I kept looking at people’s faces as i drove by.. No one was smiling. I thought to myself, why is it so hard for them to remember that rain is a blessing? Where was the joy?

Time passed and by chance, my appointment was canceled. I sat in my car slightly annoyed and wondered where to go.. feeling somehow part of the storm and yet oddly detached. I felt safe from my life, from the world, enclosed in my little bubble of metal, leather and padding.. listening to Dezarie while blasting heat in my face. Deeply wishing I had something to do.

As I stared listlessly out of the car window lacking all motivation, my eye caught site of an old woman making her way slowly up the street. She was using a walker, stumbling along as if she were fighting the wind and her own body at the same time.. My heart froze. I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to watch and wait. She leaned heavily against the parked cars as she tried walking up the hill. Her eyes were covered by dark sunglasses that hid her face, and again I hesitated, simply not knowing how to act.

A moment later she was beside my car and I saw the deep, fine lines in her face, the struggle to stay composed in spite of her weakness, the fierce pride in her posture, and the desire to live. My heart overcame my anxiety and I hopped out of the car rushing over to her with a smile, praying that I would not embarrass her! She stood still in shock, struggling to hear me over the wind.

“Hi!” I said in the most casual, friendly voice I could muster while shivering in the cold. “Can I help you? Where do you need to go, I will give you a ride.”

“WHAT?!” she replied, taken aback.. I flushed with embarrassment and somehow managed to repeat my offer, this time gesturing to my car and the heat emanating from the open door. Finally she looked at me and said while shaking her head in frustration, “I have to go to the pharmacy today but my leg is not doing well in this cold.”

“Please let me take you” I said to her with a warm smile. “I will take you there and bring you home when you are done.”

“You will wait for me?” she said in disbelief. “GOD BLESS YOU! You are my angel today!” She started to hobble over to my car, mumbling about how it was a miracle from Hashem that I had come. “This is my lucky day!” she said again and again. I helped her in, then drove to the pharmacy while trying to make amicable conversation. Her English was perfect.. I found out that her husband had died, that she had been living in Israel for 24 years, that now there was no one left.. that she was alone.

She told me she had lived all over the world, from europe to the U.S.. and in one quick breath, she told me that she had survived the holocaust. My knuckles tightened on the wheel. We pulled up to the pharmacy before we could speak any further and I helped her in. She could barely move her leg.. I don’t know how she had planned on making it to the pharmacy by walking. With a toughness borne from years of survivial, she said “I don’t like missing a day taking my medicine, so I had to go.” I wondered in my heart how the elderly of Jerusalem managed to get their medicine..

After she bought the medication, I helped her back into the car and drove her to her home, offering to carry her bag for her. Embarrassment crept into her face and I quickly added that I would only walk her to the door. My heart dropped yet again as I saw that she lived on the second floor and had to walk up 20 stairs. I couldn’t understand.. my mind wouldn’t let me understand or how else could I go on living knowing that this was reality?

It took us five minutes to climb the stairs, yet we made it and stood facing each other in front of her door. She reached out steadily and took my hand in a firm handshake.

“My name is Sarah” she said with a deep strength that was heartbreaking.

“My name is Talya” I replied, looking into her dark sunglasses.

She thanked me and blessed me, that all the good things in my heart should come to fruition. Then I thanked her, from the bottom of my heart, for having had the honor of meeting and helping her. I walked away with the hairs of my arm standing on end, feeling so helpless and yet so blessed that I had tears in my eyes. I pondered what to do next.. pondered all the elderly who struggle daily with both their emotional and physical pain.. I pondered how many elderly in the streets I could have helped if I had looked outside of myself and paid attention.

Perhaps this Friday I will bring her flowers and leave them outside her door with a note. Maybe I will get lucky and take her to the pharmacy again.

And to think, all this because I had asked for something to do. Jerusalem is a powerful city if we open ourselves to it.

I hope Sarah is doing well…

Cross posted on DallastoJerusalem

4 Comments

  1. Genia

    12/9/2009 at 1:10 pm

    This is a great story Talya, thank you for sharing!

  2. Brett

    12/9/2009 at 1:18 pm

    Amazing! You should be proud.

  3. Farrah

    12/10/2009 at 3:03 pm

    It brought tears to my eyes – thanks for sharing.

  4. enora

    12/11/2009 at 9:51 am

    Hazak!

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