| Always on Me |

Wings to Fly Away

Is there something you always carry on you, even if it’s seen better days?

Project coordinator: Rachel Bachrach

Illustrations: Menachem Weinreb


The call came early in the morning. “Come now,” the hospital representative said. “Things don’t look good.”

Our daughter Miriam had been in a coma for four months after disastrous complications following childbirth. The chances of her recovering were miniscule, but we still prayed for a miracle. And now her body, artificially maintained by machines, was failing.

The entire family raced to the hospital in Lakewood, New Jersey, standing at her bedside or huddling in the hall as her vitals rose and fell and we beseeched Hashem to keep her with us. I was holding Miriam’s hand, urging her silently to rally, when suddenly I felt her press my hand. Then the monitors flat-lined.

We were ushered out of the room, dazed and weeping as we collapsed into chairs in the hallway. We stayed there another hour or so as we absorbed our horrific new reality and waited to learn the next step.

As we left, one of Miriam’s nurses came running up to me. She was young, but she’d lost a 20-something-year-old brother in a car accident, and we’d bonded. Tearfully, she pressed a small paper bag from the hospital gift shop into my hand and gave me a hug.

When I opened the bag later, I found a small silver keychain. It had a charm in the shape of a wing and an oval inscribed “Mom, thank you for giving me wings to fly.”

I never saw this nurse again—I can’t even remember her name (I’ve suppressed many of those painful memories). But it meant the world to me that she felt so touched by our loss, and close enough to us, that she went out of her way to buy gift of consolation. That keychain remains forever in my purse. It’s a reminder of my daughter, and of the kindness of strangers.


Barbara Bensoussan is a contributing editor at this magazine and the author of several books.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 860)

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