Recap: Aharon’s aunt and uncle have to leave during the blizzard, as his aunt’s father is ill. Aharon is home with his two young cousins. Mr. Slotkin appears, looking for Dr. Nathan. He has an emergency with his baby and asks Aharon to please come help, since he’s Dr. Nathan’s assistant. He leaves his nine-year-old cousin in charge and goes with Mr. Slotkin.
Icy wind pelted me. I held my arm over my face. It was like this white monster was sending ice darts and the shrieking wind was its angry laughter.
I followed Mr. Slotkin onto his carriage and prayed that my uncle would come back soon. I was no doctor. I wasn’t even a trained assistant, really, but they were desperate.
I asked Hashem to help me to help the Slotkins’ baby. The five-minute ride stretched for forever, with the wind wrestling us the whole way.
When we reached the house, I felt like my breath was being sucked out of me by the wind. We entered and I took several breaths.
Mrs. Slotkin rushed over to us. “Where’s Doc Nathan?”
Her husband told her he wasn’t home. “I brought their nephew. He’s trained with Doc. He’ll help little Betzalel.”
Mrs. Slotkin led me into the baby’s room. Actually, it was the one bedroom where her three boys slept. I nodded to Yosef.
He must wonder how his classmate could be the doctor. I wondered it myself.
The baby lay listless in the crib, laboring with each breath. He let out a loud barking cough.
Mrs. Slotkin cried out. “It’s so frightening. I can’t stand that cough.”
The baby heard her cry, and he began to cry, which just caused more deep barking coughs.
I leaned over and lifted the baby up. I knew when we treated croup patients that my uncle always had them sit upright. “Can you heat water by the fire and make a steamy area for the baby?”
Mrs. Slotkin rushed to follow my directions.
I held the baby upright over my shoulder. “Hey, Betzalel. It’s okay,” I soothed. I knew Uncle Nathan tried to calm the patient. “It’s okay, buddy. You’re going to be okay.”
He seemed to relax in my arms. I brought him into the kitchen where the water was being heated.
“Will he be okay? He looks so blue.” Mrs. Slotkin’s voice rose.
The baby coughed a loud barking sound.
I realized her worry was transmitting to the baby. I thought of what my uncle would do. He told me that you have to comfort the patient and the family and keep them calm.
“He’ll be fine, G-d willing, Mrs. Slotkin,” I said, praying that it would be true.
I remembered going with my uncle to a house where a little girl had the croup and he steamed up the kitchen.
“We need a lot of steam,” I instructed.
When the room was very steamy, I brought the baby near the steam. I held him and let him breath in the steam.
“Mrs. Slotkin was crying.
“You don’t want to upset him,” I said. “Perhaps wait in the living room. I’ll bring him in when he’s doing better.”
Mr. Slotkin led his wife to the living room.
I stood over the steamy tub with the baby for a good 15 minutes. Sweat poured down my back and beaded my forehead.
The baby became more perky. He coughed once and a bit of phlegm came up.
“Good boy. Hashem is making you all better. Good boy.” I rubbed his back.
The color returned to his cheeks and the coughing stopped.
“Thank G-d!” Mrs. Slotkin rushed over to take her baby. “Thank you.”
I suddenly felt shaky. I couldn’t believe it. Hashem had done this. It was totally Hashem.
“I better go back now,” I said, thinking about Chezky and Shmuel. I’d left a nine-year-old in charge of a four-year-old.
“My husband will take you back. Please tell Dr. Nathan thank you from us. He’s trained you well.”
I thanked her and found myself back in the carriage, heading back home. The storm was as strong as ever and I closed my eyes against the pellets of ice that stabbed at my cheeks and forehead.
We pulled up to the house. I thanked Mr. Slotkin. He yelled his thanks and I rushed inside.
“Chezky, Shmuel, I’m back!” I yelled.
They weren’t in the living room. I headed to the bedroom.
They weren’t there either.
“Come on, guys. We’re not playing Hide and Seek now.”
“Chezky, come on out.”
I listened for tell-tale giggles or whispers. The house was strangely quiet.
I felt my heart contract. The wind raged against the door. Where were Chezky and Shmuel?
To be continued…