Let me rephrase that sentence.
What was our goal for taking our whole family to Israel?
To create memories together, as a family, in a place that we (the parents) love. To deeply embed in our children (all of them) a collective remembrance on the subconscious level. To add to the canon of our family's story with tales that can be told and retold until their memory becomes softened around the edges and sweetened with the flavor of memory.
I do believe that we did that.
Sam was a lot like a homesick camper who can't quite get comfortable. That camper who has fun during swimming or sports but immediately tells you how miserable he is afterwards. That camper who, if caught smiling or laughing, might send you a scowl just to remind you that he plans to continue to be homesick even if he's having fun sometimes. And in retrospect, this is so typically Sam. (Please remember, he really and truly did not feel well for most of this trip. The not-quite-sure-if-it-was-chemo-or-GVH rash was uncomfortable and itchy for most of the trip. The pain in his ankle that only started to go away by Thursday kept him from walking too much. And wow, were those changes fast.)
We scrapped most of the schedule and replaced it with "go-with-the-flow" moments that filled us up with Israel and Sam-ness.
|Buying the biggest shofar he could find|
Releasing birds at the Jerusalem Bird Observatory
Fishing in Jaffa Port (one of my favorite moments because this kind Israeli man just let Sam use his fishing pole)
Helicoper ride over the coast of Israel….in full disclosure -- I (Mom) kept my feet on the earth.
Playing on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea (try teaching Solly to say that)
My children will carry this memory of their very first time in Israel deep in their souls. They will always hold this as a place that they experienced together as a foursome. When they visit again, when they study there, when we talk about Israel at home -- they will feel the presence of our whole family. This is the accomplishment of our goal.
It was hard, oh so hard, but I do believe that we made the right choice to take this journey in the midst of our bigger one.
We have so many people to thank for this journey, and it's hard to write everyone down -- so if I forgot to include you, please know it is from my own error (and probably jet lag) and not because we are unappreciative of what you have done for us!
Our intense and full gratitude...
To Rabbi Steven Lowenstein and the entire community of Am Shalom who made it possible for this trip to happen.
To Uri Feinberg and the entire staff of Da'at who went above and beyond to give our family this experience. (And to Meryl for the challah!)
To the hotel staffs at the David Citadel and the Carlton hotels who delivered milk at all hours of the day and high-fived Solly at breakfast each morning.
To Jessica at USAirways, who rebooked us on Sunday from our original tickets to the different-airline's flights that got us all the way to Israel (it was quite an ordeal for her and for us but without her, we might not have made it at all).
To everyone in the US and Israel who sent us messages with ideas and suggestions for improving and adding onto the trip, or had fruit or sweets (who knew that Marzipan Bakery's rugelach could be delivered!?) sent to us, or left us kind and lovely offers of their own resources and even their own homes.
To Dr. M and his team who spent a lot of time texting and talking about ways to make Sam more comfortable from so far away and checked in on us at all hours of the day and night.
To our dear friends at home who took care of our house and turtle.
To Uncle Josh and Uncle Harry and Tante Anne who helped shepherd our children and share our pain and love.
To Bubbie and Zeyde and Grandma who trooped along with us and held back their tears as best they could.
To all of you who followed our journey and continue to follow what we do…