Last night by the light of my front window menorah, proclaiming for all of Park Avenue the first of eight miraculous nights, I texted back and forth with my niece Jade, sweet-sixteen yesterday, about her birthday dinner and other everyday things. It wasn't until this morning that I remembered the silly promise I'd made her when she was eight and at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Children's Center, so suddenly seriously sick with aplastic anemia. Though I was unshakably sure she'd survive what most don't, this piling of yet another hideous ordeal upon my already over-burdened family tripped my potty-mouth, which proved infectious. Realizing the unlady-likeness of our coarse gutter discourse, I told Jade we should curb it until we could celebrate her sixteenth birthday with a cuss-fest, at which we'd release a torrent of what, on those bleak April 2003 days, seemed so unfortunately fitting as chemo poison took her to the brink, but then re-booted her blood.
The jokes about it over the years fell away, as did my fear of losing her to a relapse. Now I rarely regard her as anything but a typical teenager. Yesterday's utterly ordinary talk by text was the stuff of which Chanukah miracles are made.