Saturday, January 12, 2008

Forgive me

Please forgive me, I've talked about my aunt before, but I feel like it's consuming me so I'll do a bit more oversharing. Isn't that what a blog is for?

Another "forgive me." Today, I went to go visit my aunt. By car. Yes, today, Shabbat. But I am working tomorrow and going out of town on Monday so I had no choice but to go today. My aunt is nearing the end; she left the hospital on Friday to go home to die. She is lucid but barely, able to answer questions if need be, and eating, but her body is shutting down. And I'm not sure that when I come back there will be much to see.

While I grew up traveling to shul on Shabbat by car, I don't anymore. I don't drive on Shabbat. But somehow, today was fine, with me, and, in my humble opinion, with God. I needed to go and hold my aunt's hand and tell her I love her, and try to reassure her that I'll see her on Friday when I come back from traveling. It was hard.

She smelled like death, that sour smell that you usually only smell in nursing homes, the smell of neglect and bodily fluids and a body that doesn't work anymore. It was awful and I felt like the scent clung to me even after I left. But her hands were soft and her eyes were bright, and we talked about why it was great that Giuliani got rid of the squeegee men, but why this does not qualify him to be president. Mostly she nodded her head.

I got to feed her chicken soup (in a styrofoam cup thru a straw) and canned peaches, comfort food. My cousin wanted to offer her chocolate milk afterwards, because my aunt seems to love it these days, but my cousin knew that she would turn it down because who drinks chocolate milk after chicken soup? Not my aunt, who maintains a stricter level of kashrut than anyone in my family. There is nothing like feeding an adult who cannot feed herself. This may have been one of the most profoundly humbling experiences I have ever had. She needed me to do it, and I needed her to show me how.

And when I gave my cousin a hug before I left, she thanked me for coming so profusely, and then asked what I would have said or done had any of my friends seen me in my car on Shabbat. I told her. I don't care what anyone would have said. This is the most important place to be.

7 comments:

ilanadavita said...

I have the same outlook on driving on Shabbat, ie I usually don't do it unless it is absolutely necessary, and, for that reason, would have done exactly the same.
What's more, I can relate to your feelings and the fact that you were where it was important to be as I lost the aunt that was dearest to me two months ago. She died of cancer after a very long and hard fight and I tried to be with her whenever I could, including Rosh Hashanah when I also drove after the service so I could share a meal with her.

mamalady said...

I am also going through losing a beloved aunt at the moment and if when the time comes the only way to spend time with her is to drive on shabbat, I would likely do the same thing.

As to what people think, good for you! So often we get so wrapped up in what others think is right we forget to do what we think is right. (especially when it comes to halachah)

Anonymous said...

B"H

One must break Shabbat to save a life. This is a very important aspect of Halacha. It would be impossible to know if you saved her life by being there--she may have lived one more day because you were there. So, you err on the side of life . . . can you think of a more important reason?

Gluckel of Manhattan said...

thanks so all of you for your thoughtful comments. it is heartwarming to think that sometimes the little things really do make a difference...and if it takes bending the rules every once in a while, then so be it.

ilanadavita said...

Is it ok if I add your blog to my blogroll? I only discovered your blog yesterday but I find it very interesting.

Gluckel of Manhattan said...

please do! i am sure imashalom would approve...

ilanadavita said...

Done! Feel free to visit.