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hat did he say?” Ima turned to the nurse. “I didn’t understand everything.”

The nurse’s name tag says Elisheva. Her expression is compassionate as she explains, “A minimally conscious state can mean that there will be periods when the patient responds to touch or words, perhaps by moving a finger. It’s a low level of awareness.”

“Does that mean she is going to wake up?” I ask.

“It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s a good sign.”

I look at Ima and her face is hopeful.

Elisheva connects a bag of to the IV. It’s a nutritional formula, since she can’t eat. I watch the white liquid drip from the hanging bag. Poor Mommy. For almost a year she hasn’t tasted real food.

“Can a person live like this their whole life?” I ask the nurse before she turns to leave the room.

Elisheva smiles sadly. “Anything can happen.” She leaves the room.

“Ima!” I turn to her. “Can’t the doctors do something to wake her up?”

“Only Hashem can wake her up, Meir,” she replies to my question. “Everything is in His hands.”

When I came into this room I didn’t know what to think or feel, but now that I’ve seen Mommy it is hard for me to just leave and go home. I want to see her eyes open. I want to feel her fingers press mine again….

“You can stay a little longer.” Ima always understands what I’m feeling. “I have to go get my discharge papers from the office. When you’re ready to go, just come down to the lobby. I expect that Abba will arrive with Yael any minute.”

I pull a chair close to the bed and sit down. “Mommy?” I whisper. “I know you can hear me!”

I feel her fingers gently tighten around my hand.

“Mommy, I want you to see me! Please open your eyes. Please look at me.”

My heart skips a beat. My mother’s eyes blink twice, three times — she’s trying to open them! A moment later her fingers go limp and her eyes close heavily, as if the effort exhausted her.

I lift her hand to my mouth and touch it lightly on my lips. “Goodbye, Mommy,” I say. “I have to go now but we’ll come back every day until you are better and can leave this hospital. I will daven for you. Like Ima says, Hashem can do anything!”

I walk backwards out of the room, watching and hoping for another response, but the only sound is the dripping of the infusion.

I’m a different person than I was before I saw her. At first she was just a stranger to me, then I noticed she has a resemblance to Ima; they both have the same coloring and shape of face. When I spoke to her I began to feel something personal. And when she squeezed my hand, I knew for sure that she is my Mommy. I want her to get well! I want her to come home!

Abba and Yael are waiting in the lobby. Yael leaps into my arms and I bury my face in her soft black curls for a few seconds until she pulls free. I turn to my father. “Abba, if Mommy wakes up, where will she go?”

His expression is serious. “That is her decision,” he says.

My blood freezes. “Do you think she will want to go back to Musa Elkaradi?” The words are hard for me to get out.

“I don’t know.” My adoptive father sighs and adds, “We don’t know her, do we? We only know she had an unhappy childhood. It’s possible that she wanted to escape her strict and elderly mother. Young people are often impetuous. Maybe when she met your father he told her his name was Moshe and she didn’t suspect that it is Musa? She wouldn’t be the first one to fall into a trap like that.”

“Are there others?”

“Too many, Meir. By the time they discover that their innocent dreams have turned into nightmares, it’s too late to escape.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 731)