The House with No Mezuzot

On Wednesday, I lived in a house with no Mezuzot. We had a slow start to the morning on Wednesday because of Gaby’s cousin’s wedding the night before. It took longer for me to drag myself up and out of bed but I managed, even though I was so tired. Gaby offered to do the morning rush and since we were letting the kids sleep in, no one had to be up and out the door at 6:00. But we knew that at 7:30 a.m. we all had to be prepared for the visit from our Doctor, our Mezuzah Doctor.

I don’t know if it’s like this in your families, but my family likes to be super thorough when bad things happen. We address whatever can be addressed physically: we deal with doctors, tests, change our eating habits, our exercise routine, do research, speak to the experts, etc. Simultaneously, we hit up the existential. We daven, sponsor learning, say tehillim, visit the graves of our ancestors, give tzedakah, do hafrashat Challah, visit the Kotel, ask forgiveness from people we may have wronged, etc. And while we’re dealing with licensed and trained MD’s, we also make sure we call the Mezuzah Doctor.

My Dad davens during the week with this particular Mezuzah Doctor and he shared the phone number with me. In the whirlwind that has been my life since my diagnosis on November 15th, Wednesday was literally the first day I had available for him to come.

And he blew into our home like a man on a mission. With precision he walked from door frame to door frame, removing Mezuzot, extricating tightly wound scrolls and placing them gently into a plastic bag. He had some trouble removing the Mezuzah from our kitchen door frame, a beautiful silver antique piece that Gaby inherited from his late Grandparents, which has adorned our home since we moved in three summers ago. With a yank he was off, leaving as quickly as he entered, promising to return the Mezuzot by 5:00 p.m. that evening.

Gaby and the kids left shortly thereafter and I was alone in a home with no spiritual protection. I felt even more vulnerable that I’ve felt over the past 14 days, and it was extremely unnerving.

I curled up in my work chair and settled into my massive task list. The end of the month at work is always very busy, so I was happy for the distraction, and for a couple of hours I was able to just focus on my to do list. But inevitably, my mind began to wander, and I thought back to the wedding the night before.

The kids looked amazing, the bride looked beautiful, and I was an emotional wreck. Although the kids looked great, they were already overtired, and spent the beginning of the wedding pulling and pushing, kvetching and complaining. After two meltdowns, I looked at Gaby and told him he better load up at the shmorg cause we were going home as soon as the Chupah was over. There was just no way the kids were going to make it through a meal and dancing if they were already having meltdowns. My body felt sore from the liver biopsy the day before and I was suffocating in my Spanx, and I just couldn’t make small talk and smile when inside I’m just a mess. We took the kids to a small table and just tried to keep them calm until the girls needed to walk down the aisle, to keep their dresses clean until after the Chupah and the pictures. The wedding started to run late and fatigue just hit me, all I wanted to do was get into a pair of loose fitted pajamas and crawl under my covers. The bandage over my biopsy site was starting to itch and I was desperate for a hot shower.

Finally, the music started and the Chatan was on his way to the Kallah. The girls were called to come over and get their flowergirl baskets, and so we  made our way to the cluster of people. I was nervous about getting pushed since there were a lot of people and one of my post-biopsy instructions was not to get pushed or fall, and so I walked on tentative legs towards the crowd.

Above the waves of colorful shaitels and shmatas, I met her gaze and froze. There she was, my mammogram technician, all coifed and made up for the wedding. I placed her immediately and felt the blood rush to my face while my neck went cold. I’ve never felt emotions like that before – fear and shame at the same time. There she was, the woman who just days earlier got really intimate with my right boob, and one of the few people in the room who knew that I have cancer. After a few seconds starting at each other in recognition, I was thankfully pulled away by Sivan.

We made it through the Chupah in one piece and then, as the Chatan and Kallah danced towards the Yichud room, we stopped off at our table to say goodbye to the family and left. We didn’t get home until after 10:00 p.m.  and the kids were all fast asleep.

We did manage to take some beautiful pictures of the kids, and so to distract myself I scrolled through the images. And then there was a ping of an incoming email, and I saw it was a message from one of my oncologists (I have two). The results from my breast biopsy were in, and they were benign.

But since I was living in a house with no Mezuzot, I didn’t know how to react. Was this good news? Was this bad news? Could I still have breast cancer but this spot wasn’t the primary?

I tried to read through the Hebrew pathology report and then just gave up and sent it over to Gaby and my primary care physician. I wrote back and asked “is this good news? I sent the same question to my primary care physician and then called Gaby, telling him the results.

My oncologist wrote back that they didn’t find anything abnormal in my breast tissue and so that was good news. But we still don’t know what kind of cancer I have, and where’s the primary. All we now know is that whatever they biopsied from my breast was benign.

And so here I am, Friday afternoon, two days later and still no answers. I should tell you all that I hate puzzles. I have always hated puzzles. I have no patience to fit pieces together to get a final picture. Yet, here I am, trapped in a cancer puzzle with missing pieces that are taking their time fitting together to complete the picture.

We just have to wait for the liver biopsy results, and continue to daven and hope that the prognosis is good and that whatever cancer I have will be treatable and curable.

The Mezuzah Doctor returned as promised on Wednesday night. He was no longer in a rush, it was the end of his day, and so we were able to have a chat over coffee. We learned that his wife is the librarian at Yarden’s school, and that he has been checking Mezuzot for years. And as he went from room to room, returning the precious boxes back to their rightful place, we also learned that all of our Mezuzot were kosher.

Please continue to daven for me: Shira Batya Bat Chaya Yehudit

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

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