I work two-and-a-half days a week, and am fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy long weekends at my home upstate in South Fallsburg.
During the summer, after my half-day Wednesdays, I make my way to my upstate home. One of my daughters and her family share the house with me. She stays there all week, as she and her family live out-of-town.
To my benefit, she does all the cooking and shopping – even for Shabbos – since she spends the most time there. I even come home to a home-cooked meal when I arrive after my half day’s work. My other daughter, who works in the city, comes with her family to spend Shabbos in the country with us. She too assists with the Shabbos preparations, which leaves me to be a lady of leisure. My husband arrives when it is convenient for him, as he is semi-retired.
Now to go back a bit, I have a spinal injury from many years ago when I took a tumble down the stairs. The accident left me with some muscle weakness on my right side, but I manage to function fairly normally, baruch Hashem.
Since that time, I have been continually watched by my neurologist, as my condition does tend to change with time (and age). Unfortunately, so do my sleeping habits. Sometimes I sleep all night, while other times I stare at the clock for hours on end. On the days that I haven’t slept, my walking is compromised because the fatigue affects my muscle weakness.
Last year I asked my doctor if he could give me something for my sleeping problems. He recommended a new medication. Following the doctor’s instructions, I began with half a pill at night, and then increased to a whole pill to be assured a good night’s rest. The doctor suggested I take the medication during the day as well if I wasn’t feeling too drowsy, as it might help me with some other physical issues also. So for a few days I started taking the pills during the day and had no drowsiness issues. All seemed well.
Until one Wednesday last summer when, on one of my routine trips to the country, I felt tired even though it was still quite early. I said Tefillas Haderech after a half hour on the road, thinking that the drowsiness would pass, and began looking for a coffee shop where I could stop. Little did I know I probably should have turned around and returned home.
As I searched for my usual Dunkin Donuts, I managed to get lost because I wasn’t focusing well. Before I knew it, I was taking a totally different route to the country, thanks to the GPS on my brand-new car. Along the way I started to feel literally drugged. It was different than feeling tired because my thinking process felt different. I wasn’t aware of this at first. Had I simply felt tired, I would have pulled over for a short time, but I was not even aware of what state of mind I was in.
The route I was taking turned out to be a more scenic one, so somehow I suddenly became alert. And I had to pay more attention, since the road was not familiar. For a short time, I felt a little better.
Then I was directed back to my regular highway, and found myself weaving in and out of lanes. I decided it would be safer to stay in the right lane. Twice I ended up driving off the highway totally, onto the right shoulder at 50 or 60 miles an hour, and had to wiggle my way back at that speed onto the main highway. It was quite frightening and I don’t know at all how I managed to travel. I also don’t know how no one called the police – I wish they had so I would have had to stop. Hashem certainly must have been my driver that day and actually carried me on a cloud to my destination. Somehow, b’chasdei Hashem, I managed to arrive safely.
Let’s fast-forward to the last day of the summer, when my husband went for a ride in that same car to get a newspaper as I was getting things ready to close up my summer home. My husband called a few minutes later, advising me that he had been at the gas station pulling into a spot when a truck had gently hit him and slightly damaged my car. Baruch Hashem he was unhurt.
It seemed clear to me that Hashem had decided that I needed a wake-up call and that it would involve my car. So my one-month old car took the damage – and both and I and my husband were spared.
All our challenges are really wake-up calls from Hashem. Maybe He was trying to tell me that I need to do my mitzvos more intently and with more awareness. And every hour of every day is the right time to be aware of how fortunate we are and to show hakaras hatov to Hashem.