Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Heard "Help Me"

It was a beautiful Shabbat morning and I had just finished meditation and learning at synagogue.  I said goodbye to a friend and planned to walk home.  As I left the building, I noticed an elderly woman being helped out of a taxi by the driver.  Something didn’t seem right; I saw her lips moving but could barely hear her.  Suddenly, I heard her…”Help me.”  Without thinking, I went to help her.  The driver, with a grumble, left the woman in my care. 

“Help me.”  Those are the words that stung me today. 
"Help me." And so I did.  I walked her to the sanctuary so that she can sit with her community, get some lunch, and feel nourished by both.  At least, I hope that is what happened.

In the time it took me to walk her to a seat, she told me the following:
  • She is 94 years old.
  • She is a survivor of the Holocaust and came to LA in 1957.
  • She was a manicurist and facialist.
  • She asked me to open her medicine because her hands can no longer open those child proof caps.  I then poured the medicine into the spoon and fed it to her.
Here is what I saw:
  • A 94 year old woman yelling “Help me.”
  • A 94 year old woman with enough strength (or whatever you call it) to get in a cab to come to a place of worship.
  •  A 94 year old woman alone.
  • People asked me if I needed help helping her.
  • She said she didn’t want to live like this.
  • She wanted to cry and I comforted her so that she wouldn’t.
As I helped her to a seat, I wished her a beautiful Shabbat.  She thanked me and said something else that I don’t remember.  I left the building with a heavy heart.  As I walked out of the synagogue, I tried to breathe and found it difficult because I really wanted to cry.  Someone told me that I did a mitzvah.  When I got home and told the story to my husband and 12 year old daughter, I cried.  My daughter hugged me and thought it was great that I helped.  My husband and I talked about solutions. 

I am overwhelmed by this experience.  Will I do something?  Yes, I will speak to someone at my synagogue because I know that she is not the only one.  And if I never see her again, I know that I helped her today.


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