Yes, There Is Good News

Having one’s mood pulled down by the cycle of one terrible news story after another is easy, in fact almost unavoidable. No matter how close to home or how far away you look, scary and depressing conditions can easily throw a shadow over our lives. And looking away and evading reality would be a mistake; we must face life head-on.

But all that negative can obscure the reality of the positive. Recently, I was forcefully reminded that there are good, hard-working, and caring people all around us. In the hope that it will warm your heart as it did mine, I’d like to share my story with you.

About three weeks ago, my husband and I were blessed by the arrival of a new grandson. Thankfully, his family lives only a few hours’ drive away and I was on-site the next day while my husband joined us for Shabbat followed by the brit milah, the circumcision, on the following Monday. He then drove home to return to work while I stayed a few days longer, ostensibly to help out but also because I couldn’t tear myself away from that fleeting newborn smell and feel.

Only a few days after I got home, we received a frantic evening phone call from our daughter, telling us that she and her husband were on the way to the emergency room with a two-week-old who was spiking a fever. We stayed glued to the phone for the rest of the night as the baby was subjected to one painful and unpleasant test and procedure after another.

The next morning, I took off for New Jersey once again. This time fear and uncertainty rather than joy accompanied me on every mile. At the best of times, the lure of the freeway doesn’t sing to my heart. I especially dislike the congested roadways in large cities. Hackensack, New Jersey, where I was headed, is a stone’s throw from New York City. I shifted nervously in my seat as the disembodied voice in my phone directed me to keep going forward as the ominous signs above my head warned that the multiple lanes surrounding me led either to the Lincoln Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge, both of which would have me soon entangled in the inescapable labyrinth of New York City traffic rather than remaining in New Jersey.

Things got worse. “Accident ahead. Do you want to be re-routed?” popped up on my car’s electronic map. Well, yes I did, but that re-routing quickly revealed that the new exit I was supposed to take was closed due to a different accident. If you drive this route everyday, you may be chuckling at my “country mouse” emotions, but this final fifteen minutes of the drive, covering only a few miles, was rather tense.

Eventually, I exited in Hackensack and drove up to a hospital with numerous campuses and entrances. I had no idea where to go. Enter angel number one. I pulled over and called out to a construction worker passing by, asking him where I could find the mother and child building that I was seeking. This kind man took the time to tell me to ignore the confusing signs and instead he gave me simple directions that led me to exactly the right place.

As I pulled into the parking garage, I overshot the ticket-dispensing machine and stopped at the booth. While the question I asked, “Am I in the right place for the pediatric intensive care?” was simple, it was accompanied by my bursting into tears and babbling that my grandson was there.

I must have arrived at a shift change, because there were two attendants in the booth. The young man responded, “Yes, and you need to get a ticket,” pointing to the machine I had ignored. His companion, an angel in the guise of an older woman, came out of the booth and squeezed my arm, saying, “I’m a grandmother too. It will be all right.” She kept uttering soothing words until I composed myself at which point she walked over and pulled my ticket for me, handing it to me along with instructions of where exactly to park so that I would be near the correct elevator. Within a few minutes, I was embracing my daughter and the baby.

By the grace of God, while the baby did have viral meningitis and needed to stay longer in the PICU, his mother was allowed to stay with him full-time while his father and I traded off being with them or with the two older boys at home. As I write this, baby Eli, thank God, is home and thriving.

During this ordeal, the kindness of two strangers nourished my soul. And not only mine. When I left the hospital, the younger attendant was on duty. I think that he too benefitted from his co-worker’s example, as he recognized me, asked about the baby, and wished me a safe and pleasant drive home. He not only collected the parking fee; he made a human connection. His partner’s mentorship had taught by example that this job could be a means not only to get a paycheck, but an opportunity to serve and sustain others. And this kind woman’s generosity of spirit reminded me not to succumb to the drumbeat of pessimism and gloom.


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37 thoughts on “Yes, There Is Good News”

  1. I am so happy that your little one is happy, well and at home. I smiled when you referred to angel #1 as that is how I look at helpers that God has sent my way. A flat tire, a dead battery, a stranger that lets me cut in line when I’m running late for a medical exam. I in turn also like to find a way I can pass blessings forward. Thank you for you show and emails.

    1. Marsha, in Hebrew the word ‘angels’ and the word ‘messengers’ are one and the same!

  2. Kindness is the most beautiful thing to experience and to share. I’m glad that you encountered those people and that your grandson’s health is improving.

  3. God bless you, Susan, Baby Eli, and family. As I’ve been doctoring quite frequently since before Covid hit the scene here, I’ve been reminded often of the the good I see in fellow men, reflecting the Imago Dei of their Creator (whether they realize it or not). I continually remind myself to think the best of others, and then when this seems impossible, to not grow bitter but rather give the grace I pray I’ll someday receive for my shortcomings.

  4. What a heartwarming story…..and much needed with all the other terrible things going on. Thank you for sharing. So glad your new grandson is now doing well. (Ps: I share your “love” of city freeways 😬).

  5. Praise God Baby Eli is back home and no doubt thriving. What a wonderful family he’s been born into, Susan. Although it’s more and more difficult to find RAK’s out there and it’s theraputic to one’s soul to hand them out liberally as well. God bless, God speed and congratulations on the birth of another little Lapin!

  6. Beautiful story. It would never make the news. I’m confused, though, have you relocated to the east coast?

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Suzanne–
      Yes, indeed. In order to be closer to our family, we did move to the east coast. We greatly miss the Pacific Northwest but find much joy in being close to children.
      Cordially
      RDL

  7. Jacqueline Coutanche

    Thank you Susan for your really heartwarming story! I’m so pleased everything turned out so well for you and all your family.
    My Mum passed away this March and reading your story my Mum’s words came flooding back to me … She always said ..God is Good even when thing’s seem so dark!
    Your lovely story and my Mum’s wise words gives me courage to keep moving forward and always look for the good in people.

  8. I am so so grateful that your newborn grandson is now home and doing well. I cannot imagine how long that drive felt! Thank God for His “angels” that were on duty that day! God Bless You All Richly!

    1. Thank you so much, Deborah. I very much felt God’s protection in the car with me as I sped along.

  9. Thank you for sharing your uplifting story. Having a sick baby (or grand baby) is such a stressful situation. It is so easy to say a kind word or offer a smile and it usually brings immense relief to the receiver. I’m glad to hear your sweet grandson is doing well now. I, also, love the smell of newborn babies. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to hold them. Glad to know your grandson is home and doing well.

  10. We had a similar run in with viral meningitis with my son a week after he was born… he’s married and has a child now… that was 45 years ago, but your story brought back many memories… Thanks!

  11. BETTIE-ANN HAUTH

    Blessings on Baby Eli’s young life, and all of the Lapin family. May more of G-d’s angels/messengers show up all around us as we look for the many ways we are touched by the kindness of strangers [who “may be angels in disquise”].

  12. Happy to hear the baby is doing well! Prayers have been sent for your family and the baby!

  13. Much love to all. So thankful all turned out well. .That can be a very disconcerting situation. Love and prayers and a thankful heart

    1. Thanks, Susan. Yes, thankfully the baby is fine. His parents and grandparents are full of gratitude (and not quite over it).

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