CREDOS:Second chance — III

Rabbi David Wolpe

I was afraid for my wife and especially for my 7-year-old daughter. How would she cope with what could happen to me? What would my death or disability do to her life?

The morning of surgery, as my bed was wheeled out of the prep room, I said the “Shema” with the acute knowledge that it could be last time. I felt with powerful intensity the ephe-merality of everything, how life, friends, family, love, this entire world is a wisp grasped between our fingers and how a moment can take it away.

We walk on a tightrope, and there are some who look down and tremble and others, like myself, who live looking straight ahead. I do not know which is wiser, although I have always known that only the former are fully awake.

Suddenly forced to look down, the current below, the ones that swallow our lives, seemed swift and strong. As I fell to sleep, I knew it was only a step away from darkness.

My first memory after the operation is of the surgeon standing over me, telling me it went well, but that there was still an 85 percent chance I would need radiation.

Then the nurse offered me morphine. I told him no drugs until I saw my wife, because I did not want to be cloudy when I first saw her.

When Eliana walked in and I said hello, she told me later, she could tell instantly I was once again myself.

A week later, they called with the final pathology. It was totally benign. I would need no further treatment.

I was joyous, but cautious.

It is the same feeling that my wife, a cancer survivor of six years, always told me

about when people insisted she was now “fine.” I felt fine then, she told me, and I had cancer. —