Two-year-old Ayelet Galena died early Tuesday morning. When I found out, I cried. I cried for the death of a little girl I’d never met, and for her parents and family. And I cried because I had not done enough.
When she was only a year old, Ayelet was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow failure disease. She received a bone marrow transplant in August. Her brave, incredible parents, Hindy and Seth, blogged each step of the way. In doing so, they let readers into their unimaginable world, and did so with grace, humor, and dignity.
And now she is gone.
And I did not do enough.
I’ve read about Gift of Life, the bone marrow registry, several times, both on Kveller and in other forums. I’ve heard over and over again about how important it is to register for anyone. I’ve heard over and over again how it’s important for me, particularly as an Ashkenazi Jew, to register as a potential bone marrow donor, because Ashkenazi Jews often share similar genetic materials and therefore could be a match for another person desperately in need for a transplant.
And I did nothing.
Sure, I started registering for a kit to be sent to my house a few months ago. But you know what happens, how you get distracted by something else–a child, a phone call, whatever.
Or maybe it wasn’t that I was distracted as much as that I was scared: scared at the prospect that I would be a match for someone, that I would have to undergo general anesthesia to donate bone marrow, that there would be complications, or pain.
But no physical pain I could possibly suffer, I realized as I cried yesterday, could be the same as that of a mother losing a child. Nothing could be worse than a mother seeing her child suffer.
I physically ache when I think of something happening to my children.
But imagining the sound of pushing a shovel into dirt to shovel it onto my child’s grave is unthinkable.
As a mother, I know only the slightest glimpse of the suffering of the Galenas today. And if there is anything in the world that I can do to prevent any other mother from feeling that way, you better believe I’m going to do it. And you should do it with me.
I don’t think people get the urgency of getting swabbed and getting on that donor registry. I know that they don’t get it because I only ordered my kit after crying over Ayelet–and I am begging you to do the same. Whatever you’re doing now? It can wait for the ten minutes it will take for you to do this.
Kveller readership, I am talking directly to you. We are Jewish parents. This is our chance to send out a positive, life-affirming message. If not us, then who? People often throw around the quote that the person who saves one person’s life, it’s like they’ve saved a whole world. I’m going to throw another quote at you: kol yisrael arevim ze lazeh. All Jews–all of the people of Israel–we are all responsible for one another. We are responsible for one another the way that mothers are responsible for their children. We are parents. We can create worlds.
It is our OBLIGATION not to watch any more little girls die.
I’m ashamed of myself. And I wanted to share my shame in the hope that I can confront you. If you are reading this, please click over right now to this website and register for a donor kit to be sent to you.
“There is not a 2-year-old anywhere who has had a greater impact on our universe,” one Facebook commenter wrote.
Please, God, let that be true.