My mother always said she was praying for me. I didn’t exactly dismiss it, but being in someone’s prayers because you’re a stepmother of teenagers didn’t really rate. I certainly didn’t believe it would make any difference.
I first said a mishaberach, a Hebrew prayer for healing, for a friend with cancer. Later, I added a colleague diagnosed with cancer. People came and went from my list. My third grade teacher, my stepfather, a friend’s husband. The list never had anything to do with me. Saying a mishaberach for them just seemed the right thing to do.
At 38, I started losing my hearing from autoimmune inner ear disease. My daughter Abby was 6 months old and hadn’t yet said, ”Mama.” My 3yr old Ellie was talking a blue streak morning to night. My husband breathed beside me every night. Would I lose all of this? I constantly worried. I couldn’t imagine a world where I couldn’t hear my children. How could I connect if there were no sounds? My husband started saying a mishaberach for me at shul.
The immunologist put me on daily prednisone to preserved some hearing, while we waited to see if monthly megadoses of steroids would help. They made my emotions and my bones brittle. Every time I tried to get off prednisone, I couldn’t hear and had to start again, flirting increasingly with cataracts and other health issues. When a diagnosis of osteoporosis came back, I called my mother in tears. I wasn’t responding to meds, I was needing more and more prednisone, and I had little hope that we could preserve my hearing.
Close friends began to say mishaberach for me. I sat while they stood and spoke my Hebrew name. More often than not, I cried as the thin wall between me and my diagnosis became too transparent. This went on for weeks as we learned that my hearing continued to deteriorate.
One Saturday morning, I stood and said a mishaberach for myself. It is easy to say a prayer for others. Owning it meant saying aloud this is real, and I am asking now.
At the one year point, I’ve gone through 2 of the 4 drug protocols and have continued to worsen intermittently. There are 2 more drugs. Much as I appreciate the transient denial these drugs grant me day to day, on Saturdays I get real and sit in shul and ask for healing.
I am deeply grateful now for those who put me on their lists. It is with real sincerity that I let others know we put them on our list. I believe it makes a difference. Maybe they won’t get better, and maybe I won’t either, but knowing someone’s prayers back up my own makes a difference.
And when my mother says she prays for me, I say thank you.
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