Our recent trip to the States to see family was amazing. It was wonderful to see our families, to expose our children to sights and sounds they don’t usually experience and to enjoy natural beauty.
There were moments, however, that weren’t glorious.
I am forever explaining to my children that life, ultimately, isn’t about what happens to you, but about what you DO about what happens to you. Things do not always go smoothly. Problems arise. But the question is what you do about it when things go wrong, and how you try to move beyond these challenges. This, I believe, creates the person that you are and the atmosphere in which you live.
In the middle of our trip, while enjoying time with friends in Central Park, Yakir jumped over a fence and broke his foot.
There we were, a mile away from our apartment late on Shabbat afternoon, and about 9 hours away from leaving for our flight across the country. Our oldest son carried Yakir back to the apartment where I cleaned him up, relaxed, and hoped it would just be a sprain. I had NO idea that the urgent care centers in Manhattan close at 8pm (what is THAT all about???). When I finally decided it was time to take Yakir to get an xray of his foot it was 7:50pm. I took him on my back to the front desk to ask for directions to the Urgent Care and they said, “Um, it closes at 8!” At this point, I dashed out of the building with my backpack flying, my kid on my back and my heart pounding as I ran four blocks to the…closed center. I then headed another four blocks with Yakir on my back to the next center only to find that it, too, was closed. Realizing that we had ended up across the street from the Lincoln Square Synagogue where Josh and the boys were, we went to shul and got the assistance of a medic who looked at the foot and said that we definitely had to be seen. He managed to find an Urgent Care open until 9 and Yakir and I dashed out in a cab to the center, arriving just in time. I couldn’t even fathom the prospect of staying in the ER in NYC all night, and was extremely relieved to be under the care of the Urgent Care Center.
At 10:30pm when we returned to the apartment with two broken toes and a chipped ankle, we were facing a very different vacation.
We were scheduled to leave at 3am to get a 6am flight to San Francisco…and to Yosemite. Now, I grew up going to Yosemite every summer and we had spent a year planning this amazing trip with my father and my brother’s entire family. We were going to climb rocks, hike, swim in streams and explore one of the most beautiful National Parks there is.
And suddenly, all of those plans seemed to be turned on their head. I also hadn’t seen my brother or father in two years, and I was craving time to enjoy and to reconnect.
But life isn’t always what we want it to be; rather, it’s what we make of the things that happen to us. We managed to leave for the airport at 3am, to get a wheelchair escort to the departure gate, to rent the car in San Francisco with all our luggage and to make our way to Yosemite. When I checked in at the hotel in the Yosemite Valley, I asked if they might, possibly, have a wheelchair that we could use for our stay, and, miraculously, they did! Yakir, being Yakir, took the entire event as a challenge and he started working on his wheelchair and crutches skills right away. He managed to perfect both in no time and took pride in getting himself around.
Certainly, he and I missed some of the family time. While they hiked to Vernal and Nevada Falls, I wheeled Yakir to the Yosemite Village and we found an art center where he made an art project. While they explored Indian caves, I took Yakir on an open air bus tour of the Yosemite Valley. But there were also times when we all did things together, including the day when Yakir’s big brothers carried him up a mountain so that he could be part of the fun.
It was a magical trip filled with great bonding time, a lot of laughs and far too much shopping. Was it perfect? No. Was it complicated by Yakir’s accident? Certainly. But it will make for great story telling material for years to come, there is no permanent damage to Yakir’s leg, and we all learned about being flexible and about coming to the aid of a sibling/family member in need.
And those are, hopefully, the take-aways that will remain with us for the future.