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The wish

I was busy at work, when I felt my cell phone buzzing in my pocket. I must have put in on vibrate instead of switching it to silent, I thought, as I took it out to turn it off. Then I noticed the name on the caller ID. It was Chani, a good friend of mine, and I figured if she was calling it must be important. “Hi, Chani,” I said, while continuing to briskly walk down the busy hospital corridor. “Mimi, how are you? Listen, I know you’re at work, and you’re busy. I just have a quick favor to ask you. You know, my sister Shani’s son, Mutty, is in the children’s ward. He’s been grouchy all day. Could you possibly go check up on him and try to cheer him up?” Chani asked. “Sure, as soon as I’m finished with my clients, I’ll pop into his room.” I replied. “Thanks, I knew I could count on you, Mims,” Chani responded, gratefully. Working as a social worker at one of New York’s major hospitals, I often have the opportunity to help out many Jewish kids. I always try to make their stay in the hospital as pleasant as possible under the circumstances. I finished my shift and made my way to the children’s ward, finding Mutty’s room easily. Walking into the room, I saw Mutty lying in bed, looking tired, weak and unhappy, a frown on his pale face. His mother was sitting on the chair next to him, looking similarly unhappy. “Hi!” I said in my most cheerful voice, noticing all the “Get Well, Mutty!” signs hanging on the walls.

Shani immediately brightened, and even Mutty sat up a little straighter in bed. “Your Aunt Chani told me you were here, so I figured I’d come say hello and see how you’re doing.” “Well, baruch Hashem, Mutty’s been receiving his chemo, but he’s a little tired, a little lonely and a little homesick,” Shani answered, trying to muster a smile. “Well, that’s understandable,” I said, sympathetically. “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better? Anything I can bring you?”“No, we’re fine,” Shani replied. “Are you sure? I would love to help you. If there’s anything you need, please tell me,” I persisted. Mutty looked at his mother, who looked at me. “Well, there is one thing…” She hesitated, her cheeks turning pink. “Mutty’s appetite has gone up and down, and all morning he’s been asking for…gefilte fish,” she said slowly. “Gefilte fish?” I repeated, incredulously. “Yes, I know, it’s random,” she said, “but that’s what he wants.” “Well, if that’s what he wants, then that’s what he’ll get!” I announced. “I’ll try my best to get you some gefilte fish as soon as possible!” Determined to help out, I said goodbye and left the hospital. Walking to my car, I noticed a big mass of dark, menacing clouds beginning to loom overhead. It’s a good thing I drove to work today instead of taking the train, I thought to myself as I buckled the seat belt and turned the keys in the ignition. “I’ll go to the supermarket in Upper Manhattan. I know they have a take-out section. I’ll pick up some fish and bring it back for Mutty.” Entering the supermarket, I quickly made my way to the take-out counter. Scanning the display case, I saw chicken, meat and salads. I spotted some salmon and sushi, but no gefilte. “Excuse me, sir,” I said to the worker standing behind the counter, “do you have any gefilte fish?“No,” was his curt response. “Gefilte fish is only on Thursday and Friday.” Seeing my disappointed look, he offered, “Come back tomorrow after five.” As I left the supermarket, a heavy rain was falling. I pulled my hood tighter as I dashed the half a block to my car. “Phew,” I sighed, as I sat in the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut. I wiped the drops of rain from my glasses and started pulling out of my spot.

Suddenly, I noticed Mrs. Lesser walking by. Mrs. Lesser, a neighbor of mine who was well into her 70s, seemed to be struggling to walk in the heavy winds. “Mrs. Lesser!” I called out, as I rolled open my window. “Mrs. Lesser!” I called again, raising my voice until I was practically shouting. Looking up, Mrs. Lesser noticed me and waved. “Mrs. Lesser,” I called out again, motioning with my hands, “come to my car. I’ll drive you home.” Mrs. Lesser smiled and walked back toward me. I got out of the car and gently helped her into the back seat. “Oy, Mimi, you’re such a doll,” she said from behind me. “It was such crazy weather,but I needed some lemon juice. Thank you so much for picking me up. I was scared I was going to get blown away by the wind!” “My pleasure, Mrs. Lesser. I’m happy I was able to help,” I replied, as I turned into the parking lot underneath Mrs. Lesser’s building. “Thank you so much, you’re such a sheifela. Maybe you come up to my apartment for something hot?” Mrs. Lesser offered. “No, thanks. Long day at work,” I responded, tiredly. I was feeling weary from a full day of work, the frustrating experience of not being able to get gefilte fish for little Mutty, and the ordeal of getting stuck in the rain. “Are you sure, Mammeleh? I have a fresh pot of gefilte fish that I made. Maybe you want a piece?” Mrs. Lesser asked. And with that, I accompanied Mrs. Lesser upstairs, gratefully accepted two generous slices of fresh gefilte fish, and delivered them to an elated Mutty and his thankful mother. All in a day’s work…

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