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Wheelchair Dance

Shoshana R. Meiri

Most viruses don’t incapacitate a person for life. The virus Belinda Rodin contracted did. It ended her mobility and her marriage, but it couldn’t touch her spirit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A warm June evening. The auditorium is packed; women cram into tiered rows of plush, red seats. The lighting is muted and a buzz of anticipatory chatter fills the air. Abruptly, the glow dims, the murmur hushes, and the curtains part. A young woman in a sleek blonde sheitel glides out into a pool of light. Cradling a microphone in one hand, she smiles into the audience and begins to sing, her voice fluid and powerful. “B’shetzef ketzef histarti fanai rega mimeich [In a flood of anger, I hid My face from you for a moment], uv’rachamim gedolim akabtzeich [but in great mercy, I will gather you in].” Her voice swirls above her wheelchair and soars into the darkness. I listen to the words and feel the sting of tears.   Little Miss Sunshine The day I visitBelinda in the nursing home is ten years, to the day, after her first admission to the hospital. Aesthetically, the home appears pleasant: a gleaming olive-and-cream lobby, deep jade carpet, soft green chairs you sink into. But there is the smell of age. In each room, an elderly person hunches, an anonymous mound in bed or drooping in front of a TV screen. OnBelinda’s door, perched over the nameplate, is a yellow Little Miss Sunshine cartoon character. It’s an apt introduction.

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