Over the past few weeks I have been reflecting on my mother’s back surgery. Today, Tisha B’Av, my mother is undergoing surgery to help her with her chronic back and related leg problems. Being the Rabbi son and not the Doctor son, I did not get the full explanation of the procedure. But I do get to daven for her health( feel free to join in Hava Bat Rut). All I know is that the doctors will be taking some of her hip bone, grinding it up , and putting it into her spine. While the surgery will take about 5 hours, the recovery will take weeks. It is supposed to be very painful, but hopefully in a few months she will be much better.
Last night as I was reading Lamentations, it was hard not to think of my mother. There we read:
מ 13From above He sent a fire
Down into my bones.
He spread a net for my feet,
He hurled me backward;
He has left me forlorn,
In constant misery.
נ 14The yoke of my offenses is bound fast,
Lashed tight by His hand;
Imposed upon my neck,
It saps my strength;
The Lord has delivered me into the hands
Of those I cannot withstand.
ס 15The Lord in my midst has rejected
All my heroes;
He has proclaimed a set time against me
To crush my young men.
As in a press the Lord has trodden
Fair Maiden Judah. (Lamentations 1:13- 15)
In general it is hard to see someone who is in pain and to know that there is nothing you can do to help them, especially someone you love. In many ways my mother has been a hero to me in my life. She is a model of community involvement, commitment, devotion, and leadership. It will be hard to see her in pain, literally experiencing her “crushed” bones “on fire.” I pray that the surgery and recovery goes well.
When there is some thing you can do to alleviate someone’s suffering we are obligated to help. But, what can we do when there is nothing that we can do to help? I am left thinking back to my pastoral care training. In those moments, we are supposed to take gratitude that the person in suffering has shared his/her pain with us.
If you ever go to hear a musician sing the Blues, you take it in as a blessing, you do not rush on stage and try to “fix” the artist’s problem. I only hope that I can be there for my mother as she is dealing with this pain. I trust that the community that she has worked so hard to create will be there to do their part. Tzom Kal– Have a meaningful fast.