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Debbie Shapiro

Quiet. She wanted silence. Instead, the machine, the little blue monster, constantly beeped. It sounded like a scream as it monitored the amount of medicine entering her bloodstream. And then, whenever she managed to ignore the constant beeping and fall into a restless sleep, after taking a pill to calm the pain, a doctor, nurse, or technician would appear and with a forced smile say, “We’re here to check your pulse [or take your blood, or bring you to another test].”

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The nightmare had begun four weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon. Well actually, it began months before that, but Batya had just thought that she was under the weather or, that at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, she was feeling the first pangs of middle age. The doctors kept telling her it was nothing, that she was under too much stress and far too lonely. They said that she needed to be married, that being a single mother was overwhelming her, and that she desperately needed a vacation.

Everyone pitied her. One of the local tzedakah ladies had arranged for Batya to spend a week at a fancy hotel in the North. Another one arranged for families to take care of Batya’s children while she was away “regaining her strength.” So to keep everyone but herself happy, Batya had spent a week trying to rest, eating more than she should, and gabbing about absolutely nothing with the other ladies, all the while worrying about her children, and wishing she was strong enough to be home taking care of them, instead of pretending to enjoy herself at a hotel.

But when Batya returned home, she was just as exhausted and drained as she had been before the vacation. She was unable to cope with anything. She could barely prepare herself a cup of coffee, let alone take care of her children.


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