Judy called last night.
“It’s like a third world country, here,” she said. “We’re living without walls and floors, we have no working appliances. FEMA gave us $2,500. We have to take our food next-door and leave it in our neighbor’s kitchen. We use her stove. We can’t use ours.”
Judy was our nanny for three years and became like a surrogate grandmother to my children, and a surrogate mother to me. She is a lovely seventy-something lady who just can’t catch a break. Her son-in-law is dying of cancer.
And now she and her older sister are living in what looks like a bombed-out condo in Oceanside, N.Y., scraping by, just barely. Grocery stores are shuttered until spring. Banks won’t open until February. Her sister has no working car.
Still, she sent Chanukah cards to my children, with a $5 bill in each one. That’s the definition of a huge heart.
Last night, we spoke to her, all six of us taking turns. Asher pleaded with Judy to pack up her sister and come live with us. Eliana burst into tears afterwards, saying, “I miss Judy! I want her to come home.” And worrying that she might not be OK amid such devastation. Shaya hugged his stuffed horsie tight at bedtime, missing the woman who cared for him in his youngest years while I was working.
It’s the middle of our festival of lights, and each night we light so many menorahs, sing the blessings, and give gifts. We have so much. We have too much.
And so many others, ones so close to us, have nothing.
The world needs balancing. I would do with so much less if I knew others could be safe, dry and taken care of.