Throughout this pandemic, amid the stay-at-home orders and near lockdowns, people nationwide are coping and comforting each other in their own unique ways. Social media is replete with suggestions by members of the mental health communities offering words of wisdom on how to maintain your mental health in this very new world in which we are living. Comedians are using their skills to try and lighten the mood inherent in the hideousness of what is happening. Daily reports by our governors, Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York, as well as updates by Mayor De Blasio of New York City have become too tedious to listen to.
All day long we are hearing about the curves that this virus is taking. All of us have had enough. We just want this to end. Will school start in September? Will colleges continue to give courses via Zoom next semester? Will college students receive refunds for dormitories that are lying dormant? Will weddings and bar mitzvahs happen relatively normally in the not-too-distant future? Will families be able to sit shiva together? These are all questions on people’s minds.
Will the world ever be normal again?
As parents of a daughter who has required constant care for her entire life, we remember waiting anxiously every spring for the end of June to arrive so that we could finally have a break, with the knowledge that our daughter was about to have one of the best experiences of her life at Camp HASC. We are pained for everyone who is now waiting for the announcement of whether or not Jewish camps will be opening this summer. We feel your concerns and worry, but trust us when we say that it in no way compares to the pain and suffering that will be felt by the families of children who attend special needs programs during the summer, and the children themselves.
Months and weeks of dreaming of the moment when our daughter would not call us each morning at seven to attend to her. Allowing ourselves to anticipate going out without having to get a babysitter for a 17-year-old. Eating a peaceful meal without having to cut up our daughter’s food with the constant worry and concern that she might choke due to her inability to chew properly.
Hashem needs to know the complete pressure and devotion that our families feel, and show to these very precious souls. We needed that respite so desperately. Whatever the cost of camp we were willing to make other sacrifices so that our sweet daughter could benefit from being away, and we and our other children would be able to enjoy quiet family moments with our focus solely on them.
Our heart is anticipating the decision that is supposedly coming on May 15 as to whether or not the camps will open. There has to be a way. We look at our children Dena and Moshe and are so aware of their concern for Zev, who anxiously awaits his next Camp HASC experience from the moment that he comes home in August until he is back in Parksville the following summer. What will we be able to do to ease the burden that will be put on their shoulders if camp does not open?
Hashem, we are davening to you to make this happen. Obviously we want these children to be in a safe environment in which their health is not put in danger. There has to be a way to figure this one out. By the time that The Jewish Link has arrived at our homes for Shabbat we will most likely know the answer to this conundrum. We are praying that a way will be found for at least these very special children to return to the programs from which they have always benefited so much and which have become an integral part of their lives.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Gllick