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Marcie’s Feast: An Extraordinary Cookbook from Extraordinary Circumstances

Barbara Bensoussan

Marcie, 48, developed a brain bleed eight years ago. After several failed surgeries, Marcie was left completely paralyzed, besides the ability to shake her head slightly and flutter several fingers — just enough to spell out sentences on an alphabet board. Another person might have lost the will to live or become embittered or self-centered. But not Marcie. Instead of resigning herself to a passive existence, she has chosen to reach out to people, inspire others, and even help finance her care.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

What happens when the body, instead of being the servant of the mind, becomes its prison? How do you make the days pass? I “meet” Marcie through her friend Chana, who visited her one morning to pose my questions. Chana says she found Marcie “sitting out on the balcony of the hospice, learning a book by Rabbi Tatz with her friend Dina. She was dressed in a long green skirt, white shirt, yellow crocheted head covering with small colorful flowers, and a jacket.” They went inside, and Marcie communicated her answers via her alphabet board.  Marcie describes her typical day: “Wake up at 7 a.m.; meds at 8 a.m.; get showered at 9. Sometime around then, I get formula through a tube directly into my stomach. I like to sit outside on the balcony where I say my morning prayers. Sometimes Emuna Witt HaLevi comes and davens with me. Afternoon (pain) medicine is at noon and at 4 p.m., and then at 8, midnight, and at 4 a.m. People come every day and tell me about their lives.” “That’s true,” Chana puts in. “Marcie receives people, like a rebbe or rebbetzin.” While people who visit the very ill are often disturbed by the feeling the relationship is one-sided,Marcie has been able to create real friendships with people, connections that go beyond arousing their compassion. “She’s a wonderful listener; she hears out many people’s troubles, and doesn’t forget anything she hears,” Chana explains. “Her responses are often brief, but they’re always on the mark, often funny or profound.” But when the visitors have gone home, and the hospital becomes quiet,Marcie admits, “Yes, I get bored. [But] boredom is a choice… I can watch TV, or work on the computer.” She once told her friendSarahShapiro that she thinks about Hashem when she’s by herself; she senses the Shechinah, said to hover over the bed of a sick person. “I don’t feel alone,” she toldSarah.Marcie’s quality of life improved dramatically a few years ago when some of her friends worked together to provide her with a laptop computer. A special education teacher and principal in Jerusalem,Mrs.YaelIngber, strongly felt that whileMarcie’s homemade alphabet board sufficed (albeit barely) for simple face-to-face communication, in this computer ageMarcie deserved a laptop so she could communicate on a broader scale.

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