From Strangers to Family: The Israel Experience


On June 2, 2015, my three-year old son almost died.

Depending on your definition of death and how technical you want to get… he did die. A hard plastic tube was shoved down his tiny throat so that air could be manually pumped into his tiny lungs, and large, adult hands pounded rhythmically on his tiny chest. After approximately two minutes, his heart started to beat again and some color returned to his beautiful, doll-like, long-lashed face.

Unfortunately, that incident of cardiac arrest was merely the beginning of a never-ending nightmare.

Again, if you want to get technical about things, the acute nightmare ended after roughly two months, but in a personal sense, the nightmare never ends once you watch your child slip away over and over again while brilliant doctors scratch their chins and tell you that they simply don’t know why your child is trying to die on you.

So how does this sad, dramatic anecdote have anything to do with Israel? I promise—I’m getting there.

Once my son was resuscitated, I sat, in a state of utter shock and disbelief, by his side in an ambulance as he was rushed to Cook Children’s Hospital and admitted directly into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

My parents and my loving husband were by my side, but in a brief moment of clarity, I grabbed my cell phone and sent a text. It did not go to my very best friend in the whole world, nor did it go to my close attorney friends who I see regularly and use as a constant sounding board for any and all drama, stress and/or excitement in my life.

Instead, during that very brief flash of lucidity, I sent a message to my newest friend-- a friend that I had met just three months prior. In short, I told her what had happened, where we were, asked her to pray and requested that she spread the word to our “group.”

Within minutes, literally, emails and texts started pouring in. “We are thinking of you.” “We are praying for Ryder.” “Be strong.” “We love you.” “Is there anything we can do?” Though the details are all pretty blurry now, I believe it was less than an hour later when the friend I had texted, Stephanie, appeared out of nowhere and was standing by my side right there in the ICU.

She didn’t know if showing up was the right thing to do, and she certainly didn’t know what to say once she got there (who does, in that sort of situation?), but she gave me a hug, cried with me and prayed.