Even after my brother Shalom a"h, was niftar, my mother expressed her appreciation to all those who assisted in trying to save his life-the main lifeguard in camp who came running to the scene after he fell from the tree, the assistant lifeguards, the rebbe who said shema with him in the hospital in his last moments...all of them received thank you cards in the mail after my brother passed away. She wanted them to know that our family did not chas v'shalom blame them for not working hard enough and that we were sure they all did their utmost in trying to save Shalom's life...and that this was a decree from Hashem and we were accepting it. They were in no way at fault. And she used those thank you cards to put her feelings into words.
She was always thanking our teachers, the school staff, the delivery guy, the neighbor who did her a favor. She said thank you to the car service driver, giving him a tip, even though this was his job. She'd thank the cashier as she left with her bags....everyone. She took note of every single thing, little and big and showed her hakaras hatov. And I took this lesson from her and try to carry it with me wherever I go.
Just yesterday, I received a phone call from my son's school. A phone call I've been waiting for ever since the beginning of the school year. The person on the other line confirmed that everything was in place and some important paperwork we were waiting for finally went through. Things should be smooth from here on.
Interestingly, the day before I got this phone call, as I left my son's school building knowing I was still waiting, I turned to Hashem and said, "Hashem, that's it. This is in your hands. We did whatever we could and there's nothing else that could be done. Now I'm turning to you and relying on you completely. Please...make this work out already...make it happen soon. How much longer can we wait for this?"
The next day, I got that phone call...my own, personal miracle.
And after I got that phone call, I sat down and penned the following,
Here's a little note to say thank you,
For all the behind-the-scenes work that you do.
We don't usually get to see the details,
And we don't know exactly what your job entails.
But for us - you worked hard, giving up was not an option
And for that we'd like to express our deepest appreciation.
You kept trying - calling and emailing too,
You listened to our (almost) daily question of "anything new?"
And now that all the paperwork finally came through,
We have two words for you-Thank You!
How much time did it take me to write that? Just a couple of minutes. But do I know how much that thank you means to the one who put in all the work for us?
I learned this from my mother-to take a few minutes to express my appreciation in this way.
Just that same evening, something happened that made my heart stop beating. It still continues pounding every time I think about it and replay those few moments in my mind.
I was home alone with my children and was busy in the kitchen when I heard my little baby, who is at the crawling stage, start screaming. I ran into the next room and saw the front door-the door right above my staircase, wide open. My heart froze. I stood at the top of the staircase and for a split-second I knew he fell down the long flight of stairs.
I was wrong.
I looked down the steps...but he was not there. Then I saw a flash of orange-he was right at the top of the staircase! He was lying up side down, with his head on the third step from the top and his feet on the second step-right where the staircase starts to turn. Had he chas v'shalom been one step lower, where the staircase leads straight down...I can't imagine where I'd be at this moment. But I wouldn't be here typing up this blog post.
I scooped up my baby and hugged him so tightly, my hands trembling and shaking. I kissed him and cried knowing that I just experienced my own little miracle.
I felt like...this is what I needed right now. I needed this two second scare as a reminder of what I have and what I need to appreciate. I have three little miracles in my care, three precious little children. Although it's true that Hashem watches over them, over me, every minute of the day, it took this to show me just how closely He is watching over my family.
Today is Rosh Chodesh Kislev. It is the month of miracles. The month when we experienced the miracle of Chanukah-of light in the darkness.
May you each experience your own personal miracles this month and may you feel Hashem illuminating your path, illuminating your life. May the darkness you've experienced be transformed into light and may you be blessed to notice and appreciate the miracles in your life...because the small miracles...they are really big.
A gutten chodesh.