This Yom Kippur, 9 yo did not daven. At all. He went to shul with my husband, there straight to babysitting and did not step foot inside shul. The babysitters fed the kids cookies, and that was the highlight of the experience. Oh, and they played dodge ball. That's all he talked about when he got back.
I talked to my husband how we have to make sure that he is in shul next year, how he needs to start davening, and we need to enforce it. I sometime feel so hopeless about him: his clothes could be backwards, his attention on something only he is aware of, not listening to us. He is not doing what we want him to do. Oh, why can't he be a bit more malleable? Why can't he just bring us nachas (happiness)? Why is there so much head butting?
Then, after Yom Kippur passed and I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I saw pictures of hospital rooms. Hospital gowns. Lots of Hebrew which I did not comprehend, but "refua sheleima" (get well soon). Pictures of a smiling boy, a son of our friends. He is also 9. And before I read through all the posts, I knew. That knot in the stomach; this is not good. Nobody posts picture after picture of their son in the hospital, with multiple declarations of love, unless this is serious.
Once I scrolled through enough posts, I saw the diagnosis: leukemia. My insides churned, as a memory flooded me; another boy with leukemia in a hospital over Yamim Noraim, many years ago. That time it was a son of a family from Richmond, and I was in highschool. I remember my host parent, who had a son same age, come back from visiting him in the hospital after Rosh HaShana. She told me how he was also swamped with toys and gifts and love. She told me how he was in so much pain over Yom Tov, that his mother allowed him to play computer games, anything to take his mind off suffering. Unfortunately, that boy did not make it. He passed away just a short time before his bar mitzvah.
That put my grumbling about my 9 yo in perspective. Please G-d, he will live another year. He is a healthy boy, doing what 9 year olds are interested in doing: playing around. He is not in a hospital room, but comfortably sprawled on the floor, reading. He is not in pain, and I do not have to decide whether he should be breaking Yom Tov to alleviate suffering.
Why is it so hard to appreciate the simple things: good health, normal children, a roof over our head? Why does it have to take a misfortune to stop and think and give thanks for the incredible goodness that we are blessed with?
Please pray for Adi Yechiel Netanel ben Avigayil.