It’s after midnight, and I’m at Movieing, my favorite café in Tel Aviv. I’m sitting outdoors next to the heater and writing. All the other customers have left, and the staff is getting ready for the New Year’s Eve party at the café tomorrow night. Two staff members whom I consider friends are going to be the party’s DJs — I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
They are setting up the equipment and doing a sound check, playing great music. I put my laptop in its case and join them inside. Two women in their early twenties come in and start to dance — I’m dancing too. They are laughing and giggling and smiling at me. Then they pose and take pictures, together and separately. Their laughter still lingers after they have gone.
I go to the neighborhood supermarket: it’s open late. There I run into Ethan.
I’m not sure if he remembers exactly what happened last summer and my role in it — he was too drunk then. But he says to the cashier, “Be nice to Lilac. She is my talisman.” So maybe he does remember.
I know Ethan from the neighborhood park. I go there to meditate every night, and he likes to be in nature. He has always seemed like a well-balanced man.
Except for last summer.
When I saw him then, he was very drunk. He was holding a translucent bag with a few beer bottles inside. Walking in an unstable way, he was heading to the park just as I was leaving. And he looked like a third of himself. He hadn’t looked like that when I’d seen him last, only a few weeks before.
“Are you OK, Ethan?”
“I haven’t been eating for three weeks since the accident,” he replied. “Only drinking beer.”
“I fell on my head.”
I immediately thought to myself, “I must help him.” But how? For starters, I said, “I’ll go bring you some hummus.” We have the best hummus in my neighborhood.
“Thanks.” I was sure he’d decline.
He sat down on a bench, and I rushed over to the hummus place. But when I got back, he wasn’t there, and the park looked deserted. I felt stupid. He didn’t want the food. I shouldn’t have left him alone. I took a walk in the park. Maybe he had just moved to another bench. But I only saw a homeless man lying on the ground. I left the food next to him, and he jumped to his feet.
It was Ethan.
“You brought me food.” He said. “You are wonderful.”
Then he sat down again, lit a cigarette, and opened a can of beer.
I sat down next to him. “Forget the beer. Now you eat.”
“Nobody would do that for me, come back with food. Thank you.”
He ate very little, and then he said, “I want to die.”
“I have nothing to live for. I’m divorced, my kids are grownup. I left a beautiful apartment to my ex.”
“I’m older than your kids, and I still need my dad.”
“We shall overcome, we shall overcome,” he sang, slurring.
“We are going to the hospital now.”
“I don’t want to go. I want to sleep on the grass and never wake up.”
“It’s not going to happen. Not as long as I’m here, and I’m not leaving. You are not well. It’s not a good idea to make a major life decision when you are in distress.”
“I am in distress.”
“I know. Let’s call your ex-wife. Maybe she can take us to the hospital.” He was still seeing her and the kids daily.
“Why call her?”
“Because she knows your medical history.”
He gave me his phone.
“You can’t imagine how many times I came over to take him to the hospital,” she said after I awkwardly explained to her who I was, “and he changed his mind in the last minute. He is a grownup. He needs to decide first that he needs help.”
She hung up.
“We shall overcome, we shall overcome,” he was singing again.
“We’re going to leave now, Ethan.”
“I don’t have energy.”
“So lean on me.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You can’t do this to your kids. But you can’t do this to me, either. Rejections are not good for my ego.” I winked at him. He laughed. “So do it for your kids, but also for me.”
He agreed to lean on me then.
“Let’s call my ex. She’ll take us there.”
“But don’t pull the I-changed-my-mind shtick on me, OK?”
He laughed. “OK.” Then he called her.
Shortly after that, the three of us were walking to her car.
“You know that he needs a psychiatric hospital, Lilac,” she said.
“Why is Lilac not coming with us?” he asked as they got into her car. She didn’t reply, but she asked me not to go, which I thought was wise.
He was smiling and waving at me as they drove away.
Ethan has regained all of his lost weight, and he looks good. He also has stopped drinking.
Sometimes it is so easy to make a huge difference in someone’s life. We only need to care. Like angels.
Dear Lilac, First it is good to hear from you again! I hope this New Year brings you light and joy. How wonderful that you took the time, the patience and the energy to care for Ethan. And how fortunate that you know that it has made a difference! I find it interesting that the Hebrew word “Malach” means both a messenger and an angel. Being a messenger of goodness, kindness, and helpfulness – this is as close as I can get to understanding what an Angel is. Maybe that is enough. It’s not all that easy to act kindly, helpfully and with goodness, especially towards people we do not know. Maybe you are one of the Lamed Vavniks. Since we don’t know who is, it becomes the responsibility of each of us to try our best! Enjoy New Year’s Eve at MovieIng! Sending you love and hugs from Los Angeles!
It’s so good to hear from you, dear Solange! I loved your comment. Thank you so much for your wise and heartfelt words. I think that it’s an immense privilege to be in the position to help anyone and a huge blessing to ourselves as well — not just to those that we help.
I gave one hour of my life to Ethan — that’s all it took. All I had to do was just to insist that he was important enough for me to care about him. And that his life matters.
But we also need to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others — to be “like angels” when we take care of ourselves as well. And that sometimes is much harder…
I miss you so much, Solange. I can’t wait to meet you again at Movieing café. Or in California. That would make me so happy….
Only those who care like the way you do are angels. The act of an angel involves the doing, rather than the thinking. You make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. Enjoy the party, Lilac. My best to all at Moeving Cafe. To read what you write again is a blessing in itself. The gods bless you!
How good to see you here, dear Jay! When it comes to doing the kindest thing and not just thinking about it, you are my inspiration. You do so much more than I do and affect so many lives with your angelic heart and actions.
Plus, you are such a gifted writer. I’m blessed to know you. Please tell us when your first book in the series is going to be out — if it’s ok to talk about it now. If not, we will wait.
You are worth the wait. <3
You are worth the wait <3 . My book will be out soon. A few minor things like submitting the photos and thrashing out the dates for the promotion tour are left. But 2017 belongs to you. To your masterpiece, an epic.
I SO enjoyed this encounter you’ve taken the time to share with us, Lilac, but most of all, it’s like a gift (!) you’ve slipped back into your space here and given me a glimpse of Tel Aviv. Bliss!
I watched a movie the other night. I happened upon MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN, based on a true story. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it or not, but it’s about a young girl who was very ill with an incurable digestive disease. (she’s unable to eat, and is fed through a tube, and is in tremendous pain all the time) Her mother takes her from their home in Texas to Boston without an appt, and begs to see the specialist there. She’s turned away b/c this dr is booked for months ahead. Then, the mother is called a couple days later – and the little girl is seen by him. She’s there a while, and many things happen. (too much to tell you here.) Eventually she’s released to go home, but she’s no better. At home, she and one of her sisters climb a huge old tree. A branch breaks, and she falls inside the trunk and is there for hours, unresponsive. The fire dept, TV crews, etc all come and once she’s out of the tree she’s taken to the hospital. The medical team there is astounded she’s alive at all – seeing as how she landed on her head hard enough to embed dirt. And – she ends up completely cured – of her incurable disease.
The point being, the mother had lost her faith. But her daughter said while she was in the tree, “He told me I would be okay. I didn’t want to go back, but he said I had to, that I would be okay.” Then the mother began to recount all the little miracles that happened to them along this path they took to seek help for their daughter. From the appointment suddenly opening up allowing her daughter to be seen by this specialist, to a friend they’d met – aptly named Angela, who took them under her wing while they were in Boston – to the ticket agent at the airline who helped her husband and other two daughters make a flight to see them in Boston after all his credit cards were declined…basically she said there were miracles all around us – if we chose to see them.
I’m sure your friend Ethan sees you like a guardian angel.
<3 <3 <3
How lovely to meet you here again, Donna! I would have loved to watch that movie. It is right up my alley. What an amazing and moving story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. And yes, there are miracles all around us, if we choose to see them. May all of us experience miracles and abundant blessings in 2017!
After posting the story about my Syrian soul brother, I felt that there was nothing more important for me to say, and that I had to leave that story on the main page of my blog for as long as I could for all to see. Even if “all” meant those who visited my blog randomly.
But I have missed blogging. I started this blog on the January 1, 2016, and it’s time to blog again. I’m in the process of rewriting my novel (it’s a long story), so I probably will blog only sporadically. But blogging is a blessing for me. And I count interviewing you as one of the happiest highlights and blessings of 2016.
I hope everybody will read your book THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE and all of your future books — I know I will.
Happy New Year to you and yours! May this year be even more wonderful and exhilarating than the last one! Looking forward to the day that we will go to Movieing café (and the hummus place 😉 ) together… <3 <3 <3
Seeing you post again is a new year’s joy, Lilac! You can see, we all were here, waiting for your next tale.
We need more human intersections like this one. Your sharing yours is important; thank you.
Diane, my dear, what a delight to see you here! I feel humbled and honored to know that you — and maybe others as well — had been waiting for my next tale.
As I told Donna, after posting the story about my Syrian soul brother, I felt for a long time that there was nothing more important for me to say.
But I love blogging, and I love to stay in touch with wonderful writers and friends like you! <3