I keep thinking back to the night Channah was born. 5 weeks earlier Rachel's water broke. Channah blocked the hole with her head, allowing the pregnancy to continue in the safety of the womb. My Mom had come to join us for Friday night dinner in the hospital room. We sent her home earlier than we expected when fetal distress started to set in. Channah was born 12:45 am weighing a whopping 1320 grams. I didn't meet her for hours after she was born as she was quickly whisked away to receive medical attention. At 3:00 am I was kicked out of the hospital in order to let Rachel get some rest. I went bouncing down the street back to the apartment I was staying at. As there was no one else around, I excitedly shared the news with the security guard for the building. In the morning, I shared the exciting news with the strangers staying in the same guest apartment for the night.
A friend of mine wrote an article and used a quote that truly rings true in my head. The quote is from Rebbe Nachman which had been a major song from my NCSY days.
כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר - לא לפחד כלל
'The whole world is a very narrow bridge. The most important thing is to have no fear at all'
The night Channah was born, I was completely clueless at how much danger Channah was in. I looked at the entire 6.5 week NICU experience as simply the path to bring her home. It never occurred to me that her life was in danger.
If someone told me at that time her Bat Mitzvah would be taking place in Israel with a Canadian theme, I would have thought they were crazy.
Tomorrow morning, Channah and I will be driving to the 'holy' city of Metula for the only hockey tournament in the world that has a daf yomi shiur. Over 4 days, I will be playing in 5 games for the Grey Team as we attempt to win the tournament. In between games, Channah and I will be picking food from the fields for Leket, a trip to the hot springs, a 2 hour ATV ride of the area and a tour of how they make pomegranate wine. I truly look forward to this time to bond with her as a young lady, and truly see how much she has grown.
In two weeks she will be celebrating with a skating activity followed by an elaborate party with her friends. I would never have guessed the unique Bat Mitzvah experience combined with recently allowing Channah restricted access to WhatsApp, would break down the walls of isolation that Channah has been struggling with for so long.
The hospital Channah was born at follow their preemies for 6 years. Their research found that preemies tend to have a stubborn streak. They were not sure if the stubbornness was a natural character trait that increased the chance of survival or if it was a natural reaction to the NICU experience.
Channah is as stubborn as they come. At times it can be frustrating when she decides to start a battle of wits. Once you get through to her, she has the power to excel. Every teacher who has ever had her has loved to have her as a student. Her grades show it. She also has poise to handle the most difficult challenges that life can throw at her. She has always been something special.
Life can be scary. Sometimes looking back at what we have overcome together can be shocking when I realize how afraid I should have been. Without fear we can achieve anything. I am so proud of the young lady she has become.