Beads of Courage

The past several days have been quite sad with the passing of my grandmother. Although, we have been prepared, one can never be ready.  My grandmother Chaya Bas Avrohom was buried today in Eretz Yisroel. May her Neshama have an Aliya.  The timing of her passing is definitely connected to these 9 days of mourning.

My grandfather, Harav Shmuel Tuvia Stern passed away 9 years ago. It was at that time that my grandmother did too, although her body remained alive. She was not the same woman after her husband, my Zaida was Niftar. She was a true Aishes Chayil and devoted her life to being an Eizer K’negdo. Her day evolved around my Zaida O”H schedule. Even when my Zaida traveled out of town, which he did often, my grandmother did not leave the house because she did not want to miss my grandfather’s phone calls (there were no cell phones in the “olden days”).  Of course she wanted to hear my Zaida’s voice, but more importantly my Zaida wanted to hear my grandmother’s, and she did’t want him to worry, if she wasn’t home.  Now she is at peace as she is reunited with her husband.

We are on the heels of Erev T’Sha B’Av. A time to reflect, remember and to mourn with Yerushalayim for “her spouse” our Holy Temple. We are not the same Nation without our Bais Hamikdash; we are lonely, we are lost, and we feel a void.

Just as my Bubbie is now reunited with my Zaida, tet this T’Sha B’Av be our reunion with our Holy Bais Hamikdosh.

Over the past several weeks, we have been trying to rebuild our lives and live as “normal” as possible. Aside from having to give Benny some oral meds and flush his central line, and a clinic visit here and there, he is just like any other 2 year old B”H. Of course he is “smarter and cuter ” than the average 2 year old, but that is just a prejudice mother speaking.   I have been battling with the idea of what “normal” is.   Being that this past year was anything but normal, somehow we felt like we got the message of what life is really about.

Now that we are moving to the other side B”H, and “normal” is seeping in, the distractions do too. We don’t Chas Veshalom want to ever be back this Matzav, but we also don’t want to lose what we have gained from this experience.

There have been many lectures over the last several weeks on “how to mourn,” “how to cry,” “how to feel” in our present time. It has been so many, too many 1000’s of years without our Bais Hamikdosh that we don’t know what or how to feel. Unfortunately, we all experience pain in one way or another. When will we finally meet our soul mate? When will our home be blessed with a healthy baby? When will we be able to pay our bills? and the list goes on. Suppose we were to channel that pain towards Yerushalayim and feel her pain as if it were our own. Maybe just maybe that’s all we need to do, to finally put an end to all the pain in our lives.

Fortunately and unfortunately, Benny’s central line is still in his little body. We are reminded daily of his fight. Once the line will be removed IY”H, the scars will remain as a reminder. Perhaps this T’Sha B’Av we can hang a white piece of paper by the entrance of our home to act as a reminder of the scars of Yerushalayim. (I know there are many who have this reminder in their homes already, but hanging a clean piece of white paper can act as a wake up call and even cause someone to ask what it is for).

Today, we were reminded of our battle. We were invited back to the  hospital today for an event, the launch of a program called “Beads of Courage.” We first saw this program in CHOP and were so excited about it. We recommended it to CHLA and helped in matching up Chai Life Line with CHLA in getting this program off the ground. We are so grateful that Chai Life Line participated as a major donor to this program, as it allows these precious little children battling this disease the ability to show their badge of honor with these symbolic beads.  Basically, there is a bead for each procedure that the child is awarded after he/she completes that treatment. There is a bead symbolic for blood transfusions, radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, physical therapy, bone marrow transplant, even hair loss and the list continues.  The final bead is a purple heart, symbolic of the completion of all treatments. We hope to string that bead into Benny’s necklace in the next few weeks IY”H.

Let us all be Zoche to string our bead, and use the white piece of paper symbolic of the Bais Hamikdosh bricks to rebuild our Holy Temple this T’Sha B’Av.

Start packing that suitcase….

Benny was presented with a custom made necklace with his name, Elmo bead, and fire engine bead from Randi with Chai Life Line.  (where did you find Elmo?) Thank you so much, Benny loves it!








The true meaning of “reach for the stars.”  Look closely at his tippy toes. On the way out of CHLA today.


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