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Last Melody

As told to Machla Abramovitz by Bracha Silver

The ICU usually allows two visitors at a time. This time was different — as it had been other times during the last three months of Avi’s life. In addition to nurses and family, the Who’s Who of the frum music scene squeezed into the room.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

SingerShlomoKatz had flown in from Israel and was making music along withShlomoReichman,GabiShull, Yummy Schachter,AbieRotenberg, and others. Accompanied by guitars and keyboards, their sweet, heartfelt voices rang out. The nurses didn’t understand the meaning of the Hebrew words being sung, but that didn’t matter. With hands clasped, they swayed to the harmonious rhythms and melodious beats. “Avi, open your eyes,” I whispered to my son as he lay attached to his lifeline — the respirator that was helping him breathe. “Look who’s here,ShlomoKatz. He flew in from Israel. He’s standing right next to you. Avi, please open your eyes.” Avi had been slipping in and out of consciousness for the last few days. He couldn’t open his eyes. Still, he understood. I knew that because the monitor showed his heart rate going up — he was excited. As we swayed to the music, we felt Hashem’s presence pervading the room. And this wasn’t the first time: this happened often in the ICU with Avi. I was happy for Avi. I was also happy for myself. Only a few days earlier, the ICU’s head physician had instructed the nurse not to resuscitate Avi should he stop breathing on his own. He did this against my express wishes. “Bracha, why do this to yourself?” he told me. “He’s going to die anyway.” But how could I deprive my son of a single moment of life? Had we not slapped the hospital with a rabbinic and legal order, Avi might not have been there with us that day, getting excited by the music. During the final months of Avi’s life, I encountered acts of unbelievable kindness from staff and strangers, as well as heartbreaking coldness and cowardice. In caring for Avi and advocating for his right to live, I found my voice as I had never found it before. It is a respectful voice, filled with conviction, determination, confidence — and gratitude to G-d.

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