The rag in my fingers glided over the rough wood underneath. It was perfectly clean, but I kept swiping that rag over and over. Again, again, harder, fiercer, faster – NO! The rag goes flying across the surface, ripping itself from under my fingers and running away. Great, amazing, just brilliant. Ok, now even my thoughts have attitude. Wonderful – and there I go again. This is ridiculous. With a sigh, I retrieve the rag and dip it in the soapy water in the bucket by my side.
I squeeze it and unleash my tension on it. When the rag had had enough torture, I release it and with it, the tension in my shoulders.
Ok, so nothing had worked out like I wanted, but too bad, right? Who am I kidding? I was utterly devastated. Ok, let me backtrack. I suppose you don’t know what has happened, so I will have to explain.
Our Pesach plans were amazing, and everything was going very well. My family and I were going to a hotel for Pesach; I was going to have the most fantastic time of my life.
Then my grandmother fell, breaking her hip and her collarbone. Being an only child, my mother had to take care of her. So we are joining my grandmother in Add to dictionary, the back of the woods, a totally dead little village no one even realised still had an existing Jewish community.
Oh yeah, and my mother is in the hospital all day every day, so guess who has to get everything ready for Pesach? Me. Can you think of a greater turnaround? I couldn’t either. It was literally a reverse exodus on me, from the high to the low in the blink of an eye.
Although I sure hope there aren’t any creatures crawling around. I can’t be too sure, though – my grandmother’s house is the biggest tip you’ve ever seen in your life!
My grandmother literally keeps everything, and I mean everything. She’s
even kept the napkins from my mother’s Kiddush! Photo albums? Cratesand crates of them. Let me give you a quick description. Imagine a dark, damp room, which looks as if it was designed in the 1670s and smells as if it’s as dead as the décor.
Lining one wall are boxes and boxes and boxes – did I mention boxes? – and piles, lots of piles. Every one of them has got to be checked for chametz because my grandmother likes to preserve the taste of memorable occasions – quite literally. I just threw out a 14-year-old piece of cake from the time of my brother’s birth. This means the cake from the bar mitzvah is somewhere here too.
The hospital corridor was not quite as dramatic as the films make out. I’m actually disappointed. No foreboding, no dread, no tension rife in the air…I’m not a romantic, you may have already guessed. The place is actually supposed to be cheerful. Pale yellow and pink walls in pastel shades, vases of carnations and primroses placed at strategic intervals – economically strategic that is!
The nurses on duty were pretty helpful and not at all cold. I read too many thrillers and weepy novels.
Room 785: nothing dramatic, just an ordinary door, painted in boring brown.
Honestly – these designers had no flair for drama! I suppose they went for comforting normalcy. I know, I know, real life and all that, but still – boring! raise my hand to knock and then –
“I don’t know what I would do if not for Ilana.” Call me a snooper, but if I hear my name mentioned, well…I couldn’t resist.
“All of this…it’s so much, too much….” And to my absolute shock, I heard sobbing coming from behind the door. My mother was crying. My hand fell to my side limply. I stilled and then strained to hear the low voice coming from behind the door between the sobs.
“We were going to be in…no, I shouldn’t think of this. All of it is good, even though I can’t see it. G-d wouldn’t throw me a curveball I couldn’t catch, more than I could handle. That’s why I have Ilana. Otherwise Pesach wouldn’t be happening this year.
Ha, nothing would be happening this year, I think I’d be staying in the hospital in the ward down the corridor….”
At that point I’d heard enough and I quickly moved away. Ignoring the nurses’ quizzical glances, I ran out of there as fast as I could.
Then I stopped. I didn’t exactly fancy being sectioned, and running head first into an operating theatre whilst crying my eyes out would kind of look suspicious.
So I slowed down and somehow calmly strolled out of the hospital, heading back to my grandmother’s house.
This time, as I sifted through junk, I had a sense of purpose. No way could  I give up. My mother was depending on me, G-d was depending on me.
Something else hit me as I waded through the sea of stuff courageously, just like Nachshon, bravely facing the tide, prepared to sacrifice himself if necessary. My grandmother and my mother were having a rough time and I could make it easier. All I had to do was plough through. No, I wasn’t free to roam around a luxury hotel like a lady of leisure, but I was able to do the right thing and quietly be the hero.
And maybe, like Nachshon, Hashem would split the sea for me – and maybe not. But that’s ok. I’m ok, because he’s still pulling the strings and I just have to relax and read my lines.
“Houston we have a problem – our astronaut has lost her head in the clouds!” Startling me out of my reverie, Judy and Abby grinned down at me. “We brought the cavalry!” “I have the most amazing friends in the world!” I squealed as I bear hugged
the two of them.
Not quite as dramatic perhaps, but G-d split my sea and my Pesach turned out to be rather pleasant!

By Chaya Sandler