Laughter in Hell

Posted on November 4th, 2013

I’m in hell.

We all are.

There’s no other way to describe it. Stella continues to deteriorate and we really don’t know when this will end.

But I’ not going to talk about that.

Instead, I’m going to tell you a few stories.

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I love these stories: Because they’re true, because they reflect how remarkable Stella is, and mostly because they do actually make me laugh — despite the current situation.

And I hope you will laugh with me. Or at the very least, crack a smile.

1. The Doctor’s Visit

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Stella was having a very rough time a few weeks ago. The doctor was on his way for a regular check. He called me when he was ten minutes away from Neve Daniel to let us know. I assumed Stella would be relieved that the Doc was coming. Instead, she said:

“Please ask him to wait. I don’t feel well and I don’t want him to see me like this.”

“Eh…. but Stella. He IS a doctor. He is actually pretty used to seeing sick people. In fact, he’s an oncology hospice doctor. He is very used to seeing really sick people. This isn’t a social call.”

“I don’t care. Let me just get over this. He can wait downstairs until I feel a little better.”

Sure enough, after about twenty minutes, Stella had me bring the doc in. And there she was, sitting up in bed, smiling at him.

“Hello Stella, how are you feeling today.”

“Baruch Hashem, ok. How are you?”

2. The Lunch Guests

It was a Monday a few weeks ago. Stella was not well enough to go out, but she did relish having people come over for Shabbat lunch. She looks me in the eye, and with 100 percent seriousness, says:

“You know, if I’m still around on Shabbat, we should have the Himselsteins over for lunch. We haven’t had them in a long time.”

Yeah, read that one again. And you can picture Stella being the only one not realizing how insane and wonderful that line was.

3. Yedidya’s Birthday

This past Shabbat was Yedidya’s birthday. Although she had already started crashing and knew it, on Friday afternoon she says to me:

“Shabbat is Yedidya’s birthday. It would be unfair to him if I was to go tomorrow. I don’t want him to be sad on his birthday. So I’m going to have to make it through Shabbat…….   Plus, there’s one more episode of “Master Chef ” (reality cooking show) that I really want to see after Shabbat ends.

Did I make you smile? Did she?



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  1. rutimizrachi says:

    I’m crying and laughing. That is Stella: worrying about everyone else. Can we all contact her and tell her when her departure would not be convenient? I’m pretty sure with how full everyone’s schedule is, we could make her immortal. <3

  2. Jeremy Zauder says:

    Number Three is fairly hilarious. And I can hear your voice in Number One. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Carol Ginsberg says:

    Stella, oh Stella! What a woman! How can she not make a person laugh? If love and respect could keep a person alive, she would out-live everyone in the world!

  4. Erika says:

    Stella is blessed with many miracles… And she continues to shine on and make the people around her happy. It’s amazing. I always smile when I think about Stella because that’s what she represents to me: love and happiness and kindness.

  5. Aviva says:

    I smiled and cried and scratched my head… Stella is too unbelievable for words. But you have always captured her essence and I can hear you telling these stories. Thanks for always sharing the personal, the private, the joy and the sadness. Amen to the above comments.

  6. lori palatnik says:

    Rabbi Noah Weinberg, z”tl, taught us that just as recordings had 70 tracks, we can also have 70 tracks of emotions at the same time. This is proof of that. Sending love and prayers from across the world. Your words and lives inspire.

  7. Iris says:

    Yes, I laughed alot. Thank you. Maybe they can hold off that Master Chef episode til eternity so we can have Stella forever and she can invite the entire world over for the never-ending next Shabbos. I didn’t think it was possible to love and appreciate Stella more, but apparently she keeps having tricks up her sleeve that inspire more love and amazement.

  8. Kira says:

    Remarkable – I’m sure every smile helps… To get through the roughest days and nights a person can imagine.

  9. Susan terry says:

    I’m with Ruti-let’s make a list of inconvenient days…… Love to you all

  10. Yehuda Miller says:

    I’m crying and laughing too. Stella, you are such a hero. Yarden, thank you so much for sharing these stories. Lots of love from Pittsburgh PA.

  11. Eric and Lori Solat says:

    She is truly my HERO! Amazing woman..

  12. Greg Neilsen says:

    Wonderful stories. We can all learn a lesson of how to live with grace and dignity from Stella.

  13. rachel himels says:

    lucky us we got to come for Shabbat lunch!!! and yes when Yarden shared that story with us, i didnt know if i should laugh or cry.. but you gotta love that grace and dignity that Stella and Yarden are teaching us every step of the way…

  14. rachel himels says:

    Stella has gone through so much and given joy to each Shabbat Chag and birthday moment, how fortunate that we have such a wonderful friend at Rosh Chodesh Kislev, bringing light through the darkness…..Chodesh Tov…

  15. Zvi Ron says:

    Wonderful and inspiring!

  16. Brian Miller says:

    Each is funnier than the next. You two are amazing.
    Thanks for the laugh. I needed it.

  17. avi moskowitz says:

    stella is truly amazing and a real inspiration!

  18. Abby says:

    I don’t even know you guys but I daven for Stella every morning and I have found such inspiration from your blog, Yarden. I don’t know how she keeps up such an incredible attitude, but God bless her.

  19. Bill Landau says:

    Now I understand. Shabbat morning, I went to put on my Stella’s Army wristband, and it snapped (luckily I have another). So I was dreading logging on to Facebook after havdallah, for fear it was a sign or an omen. I figured that when it is Stella’s time to go, she is going to leave with Malka Shabbat. But not on Yedidya’s birthday! Malka Shabbat is just going to have to wait until Stella is ready.

  20. Mary Bruck says:

    Thanks for sharing Yarden. Prayers up every day. God Bless.

  21. Jill Smudski says:

    Me, too, laughing and crying! Stella’s strength keeps us all afloat. Oh, and her love. And joy. And giving. And and and…..!

  22. Miriam says:

    Stella’s strength is a lesson for all of us… Although I never met Stella, I admire her so much.

    Thank-you for posting and sharing with us.


  23. Pinny says:

    I think Stella is saner than most if us.
    No one knows for certain how long he will be around,but we should make the most of it , and that means thinking not only of yourself but also of others. She is a true inspiration.

  24. Donna Zeff says:

    Thanks for sharing those amazing stories. I cant say I actually laughed, but Stella’s love of people and concern for their needs shines as bright as the sun. She is certainly an incredible person, and so are you, Yarden.

  25. elana miller says:

    I loved both stories. Here’s my memory of Stella. I was fortunate to be Stella’s “personal shopper” for many years. Stella was too modest to care about frivolous vanity, fashion or funk. But, I wanted to help her update her wardrobe and at least buy a new jeans skirt from time to time. So, I would go clothes shopping for Stella. If something fit me too tight across the hips and was too loose in the waist – it fit Stella perfectly. Over the years, I pretty much bought all of Stella’s clothes and she loved it! I always got a kick out of some of her funky new outfits and Jordan would always cringe – “that’s not Stella”, he would say. But, she wore them with style and was grateful for the time I saved her from going to malls and trying things on. Oh, how I wish I
    could help you now! I miss you my dear and beloved friend and neighbor.