He sits near the hospital bed, aching.
Waiting, watching, and hoping.
It’s been so long since the accident, but he refuses to leave the boy’s side.
“No change,” they always say. “The longer he is like this, the less likely it is that he will emerge from this state.”
They tell him to go home. Change his clothes. Find a hobby. Move on.
But he stays.
His only son smiles – even laughs occasionally – his eyes unfocused and unseeing, but his brain, it’s even further away.
It’s the boy’s obliviousness which hurts him the most. How is he so gleeful, so out-of-it, so unaware of the gravity of the situation?
This child was his tomorrow, his whole world, his reason for existence.
How he wishes he could just gently shake the boy awake, as he used to, so many moons before.
It’s like there is this empty shell, just sitting there foolishly grinning at nothing all day long.
Where is he really? Where is his son, this child he lives for? Is he in pain, does he feel trapped? Is his spirit peacefully floating among the mountaintops somewhere? Does he long to be held, does he hear his father’s voice, does he appreciate the warmth of his father’s constant presence? Or is he gone forever?
There are no answers, yet he stays.
Because every once in a while, there is a hint, a glimpse, of understanding. The boy will look confused, scared even, and briefly meet his father’s worried eyes. Sometimes a tear will even fall. And then it’s back to oblivion.
But those moments, they make his father go on. Because this means there might be something left inside, something real, something alive. A spark that might, just might ignite the pile of ashes and form a bright light once again.
So our Father just keeps on waiting.
This Tisha B’av, let’s give Him a moment of lucidity. Let’s forget about all the nothingness we busy ourselves with day after day after day. Let’s focus on what is really important, on what we lost, and what we should long to have once again.
We owe it to Him, as the child He waits for and watches, the one He lives for.
And maybe, just maybe, we can make it last longer than a day. Maybe this will be the beginning of The End.
(This post was partially based on a mashal that I heard from someone, somewhere, once upon a time. If anyone has a source for a similar parable about Am Yisrael being compared to a sick child, please let me know, and I will credit them properly. Also, please excuse the poor editing – I was in a rush to get this up before Tisha B’Av.)