Friday, December 16, 2011

These Lights we Kindle

Molosh Hashem

“Mr. Busch?” a stranger’s voice inquired.
“Please God. No!” My whole body trembled. Something, I intuited,
had befallen one of my children.
“Yes,” I acknowledged reluctantly. “This is Mr. Busch.”
“Mr. Busch, my name is Ann,” she began calmly. “I’ve just
left your daughter Kimberly.”
“Kimberly!” I panicked. “Is she alright? Is she hurt?
Tell me where she is!”
"Mr. Busch,” Ann continued, as calmly as she had begun, “we’re
about an hour south of Chicago at mile marker 80. Kimberly
was involved in an accident, but she isn't hurt, not one scratch,
but when I saw it happen, I pulled over to offer whatever assistance
I could. That’s when I met Kimmy. I promised I’d call you as soon as
the police and rescue arrived.”
“Ann, please,” I interrupted her as politely as I could. “Thank you
from the bottom of my heart. You can’t imagine how much I
appreciate what you did. Thank you, thank you.”
I hung up but instantly realized that, in my haste, I had neglected to
ask Ann for her mailing address.
Kimmy’s Mom“Jan, Sorry to call you at work but, but …”
“But what,” she asked haltingly. I swallowed hard.
“Kimmy was in an accident.”
“Kimmy, my baby!” she cried out.
“But she’s fine, not one scratch.”
“What, what happened?”
“Listen, ‘Hon’ (even after our divorce, I called her “Hon”. Old habits,
you know …) I’m leaving to pick her up right now. I promise to bring
her back to you.”
A Familiar PathI had driven this way countless times over the years to visit family in
St. Louis. This portion of the drive, however, was only about a
quarter of the distance, but it afforded me the opportunity to revisit
Kimmy’s birthday. As I had done on the occasion of my first-born son’s birth, I dressed
in surgical garb and scrubbed alongside the obstetrical team. My job,
as the nervous dad, was to count fingers and toes. I am thankful to
The One Above for having given ten of each to all three of my
Kimmy arrived, like I said, with ten toes and fingers, but the latter
were especially distinctive.
“Ma, it’s a girl,” I called from the dads’ waiting room, “that’s
right, yes, yes Ma, ten of each. I counted them myself, and she’s a
redhead. Her fingers Ma … yes, she has ten but they’re the most
beautifully shaped and graceful fingers you could ever imagine.”
From Daydreams to Miracles
I exited at mile marker 80 and turned into a gravel lot about a half
mile off the interstate. There she stood in front of the service station
that had towed her car. Appearing exhausted and fragile, I couldn’t
help but see the little girl whose hair I used to put up in a ponytail
like the one Wilma made for Pebbles on The Flintstones.
“Daddy, I … I’m so sor …” she trembled as I held her sobbing on my
“Shh, shayneh madele.”
“Dad, can we go home?”
“Yes Sweety,” I assured her, “in a few minutes. I’ll meet you by your
car. Don’t forget your bags.”
I walked over to the garage’s office.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bill, the paunchy garage owner,
admitted. “And I’ve seen quite a few of these in my time,” he added,
scratching his head.
We stared incredulously at what had been her candy apple red,
white convertible top Toyota Solara. The collision crumpled the
front end within several inches of the dashboard. It reminded me of
an accordion’s bellows.
How strange. The driver’s door opened cleanly. Taking hold of the
steering wheel, I slumped down in the seat. The crumpled airbag lay
on the passenger side.
My baby girl almost died here today.
I looked up. There she was.
“Kimmy, come sit by me.” I slid over.
“I need a few more minutes.” She understood.
Revisiting Ben
“Mr. Busch, I suggest you come down immediately," the eight words
I’d never forget.
Dr. Ibrahim Yosef, on call that morning in the ER at Cook County
Hospital, called me at 10 o’clock, Wednesday morning, the day
before Thanksgiving.
“Mr. Busch? Are you the father of Benjamin Busch?”
“Yes, Sir,” my voice quivered.
“I’m sorry but Ben has suffered massive internal injuries from a
traffic accident.” He paused. “Mr. Busch, I suggest you come down
immediately.” I sped away to the hospital in a state of focused
I knew how this day would end.
One hour later, my father and I watched as Dr. Josef desperately held
the electric shock paddles to Ben’s heart.
“Clear!” Once. “Clear!” Twice. “Clear!” He turned to look at us.
“Dad, wake up,” Kimmy urged, shaking my shoulder.
Going Home
I kissed her on the forehead. “Okay, Sweety, I’m ready.” I thanked
The Almighty for having ended this day differently.
We didn’t talk much. Kimmy was skittish, gasping every time I
braked or switched lanes.
“You okay?”
“Yes Dad. Just beat.” I dropped her off at her mom’s house. My heart
sank. I would have liked more time with her but I had made
As I pulled out of the driveway, I saw the menorah Kimmy’s mom
had placed in the front window, its first candle shining brightly.
“My God,” I chastised myself. “Tonight’s the first night of Chanukah.”
Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, a season of miracles old and new
and for showering chocolate coins upon the heads of children. I felt bad but quickly realized The One Above had enabled Kimmy
and me to live the eternal message of Chanukah that day: nes gadol
haya sham-a great miracle happened there.
Later that week, Kimmy joined me and Zac, her younger brother, for
Friday night Erev Shabbat dinner when we would light candles for
both Chanukah and Shabbat.
We gathered around the table.
“Sweetheart,” I began, my voice cracking.
“Yes Dad,” she responded, drying a few tears.
“This Shabbat is extra special.” I lifted the Kiddush cup. "I am so
thankful to have you by my side.” My right hand trembled slightly.
A moment passed. The candles illuminated the serpentine path of a
single drop of wine running down my hand.
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha Olam, bore pri ha gafen.
I rejoiced in my Chanukah miracle whose fingers I held tightly in the
palm of my hand, the best gift any dad could ever hope to receive.
Alan D. Busch
Revised 12/12/11

This is another short story regarding Chanukah written by my good friend Alan D. Bush, author of the wonderful book, "Snapshots of Ben".

No comments:

Post a Comment