Tonight is the third night of Hanukkah. I absolutely love this time of year. Here in Israel, the streets are decorated with lights, around every corner is a store selling sufganiyot (donuts filled with all kinds of cream fillings), and at nightfall, there are chanukiahs (menorahs) burning in every window. The weather is cool and fresh. Everyone is wearing boots and sweaters and joined by their family and friends to celebrate.
This festive feeling is palpable. There is a magical feeling in the air. It's that magical feeling that really draws me in. Tonight, after eating dinner, I had some time to really reflect on this magical feeling and analyze it in a personal way.
I think this magical feeling is really a feeling of the possibility for miracles. Hanukkah is a holiday where we celebrate the miracle of that little jar of oil lasting eight nights, instead of one. Of a war that was fought and won by the small army. It's a time where no matter the insurmountable odds, there is a possibility that we will be victorious.
Last year our holiday was extraordinarily enhanced. Tehilla had her third heart surgery a few weeks before Hanukkah. Tehilla had desperately needed surgery, but because of very small pulmonary arteries, she was not expected to make it. We were left with no choice but to hand her over to our phenomenal team of doctors. We shared our story with all of you and begged for the only thing that we could do for our daughter: prayer.
When we walk around our hospital, we often meet various members of the cardiac department, all who know Tehilla's story. They all sat together in their weekly board meetings with grim faces, trying to challenge their genius minds to find a better solution- a fail proof solution to help Tehilla. But in the end, they all came up empty handed. So, when we walk the halls of our hospital, they all recognize Tehilla. Their faces light up, and they make a point of coming to say hello. The most secular of doctors have turned to me and said, "She is a complete miracle. Just a beautiful little miracle."
You may be sick of hearing this (too bad), but as I've repeated many times: 1 in every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect. It's a terrible statistic. About 25% of those babies do not survive over the age of one. It is a nauseating statistic. Just plain awful.
There is a bond between heart parents. It is a bond where no matter the culture, religion or age, you are completely linked in heart and mind. It is the mutual experience of a parent who has become all too close to losing their child. It is the mutual understanding of medical jargon. It is the mutual passion of being forced to advocate like the scariest mama or papa bear.
But even more so: It is the severe thirst for each other's child to do well, as if they were their own. Every success story in the CHD world is a miracle and a bold statement of hope for our own kid. Every time a child with a CHD does well, we are empowered with hope and belief for our own kid.
I don't usually talk about all the other heart families that I have become close with. I have been blessed with some of the most incredible friends, that otherwise I never would have met. But these heart families mean the world to me. This past week in the Heart World, we lost many heart babies. Every day, there were more posts about heart warriors that lost their fight.
There is a little baby with HLHS that I was sure, we were losing. He is so adorable and has fought so hard. He endured three heart surgeries and he is only three months old. His parents had been told that there was nothing more that could be done, and they were going to have to say goodbye. But little Ben shocked the hell out of everyone. That little guy came back fighting hard. He reminds me of Tehilla. He reminded me to believe in miracles.
Tonight, on the third night of Hanukkah, I am thanking G-d for all the incredible blessings in my life: My husband, my kids- all three of my kids, my home and my happiness. I am especially thanking G-d for bringing all of these special heart families into my life.