W hy I suffered kidney failure, when I was just 19 was, and still is, a mystery.

The most probable explanation is that I had an untreated case of strep, which may have traveled to my heart and then my kidneys. But back in the early 1970s, when I contracted kidney disease, the field of medical diagnostics was not nearly as advanced as it is today, and the doctors could offer no conclusive reason for my inexplicable heart complications and subsequent kidney failure.

For me, one of the hardest things about being sick was knowing that my parents, who were Polish Holocaust survivors, were suffering yet again. My father had lost a wife and children in the war; my mother, who was single when the war broke out, had been through three concentration camps. Neither of them had any surviving family members.

Having no one in the world but each other, my parents built an exceptional marriage and home. When my mother would come home, my father would say, “Der zun kumpt arein in shtub” — the sun is coming into the house. Each parent would tell us children to stand up when the other entered the room.

Our parents cherished their children so deeply, we could do no wrong in their eyes. I was a bright student, but also a mischievous one, and after one particularly egregious infraction on my part, my father was called down to the school to meet with the principal. After hearing what I had done my father declared, “My daughter would never do such a thing.” And he left. He never even said a word to me about the incident.

Like other children of survivors, my two sisters and I felt that after all our parents had gone through, we had to protect them and spare them from any pain. Knowing that my parents were suffering yet again because of my illness caused me to feel enormous guilt, which pained me more than the physical symptoms I was experiencing.

When I was first diagnosed with kidney disease, the doctors informed my parents that I had six months to live. Hearing that, my father stood up and told them, “We appreciate everything you’re doing for our daughter Miriam, but your job is to give a diagnosis, not a prognosis. The prognosis is in G-d’s hands.”

A certain talmid chacham in our community, I’ll call him Rabbi Nosson Shachar, came to visit me in the hospital every Friday, bearing a single rose in a vase each time he came and telling me divrei Torah on the parshah. He and his wife constantly encouraged me, assuring me that I was going to live.

I truly needed this assurance, because I saw so many people in the hospital dying. My bed was located near the intensive care unit, and I saw countless people being wheeled out, lifeless.

Another rav in our community and his wife gave me tremendous chizuk, addressing my concerns and worries — which I didn’t want to burden my parents with — and encouraging me to think positively.

When I would tell the Rav that the patient on my right and the patient on my left with the same condition as me had died, he would say, “It’s not your business to look to the right or to the left — your business is to know that the Ribbono Shel Olam has a plan for each person. A Yid doesn’t look at prognoses and survival rates. A Yid believes that if the Ribbono Shel Olam gives him a certain nisayon, he can pull through it, because the Ribbono Shel Olam creates the refuah before the makkah.”

Hashem created my refuah just in time. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 684)