* A LEAP OF WORDS – by Cami Ann Hofstadter

The death sentence was handed down on a Thursday. The surgeons had removed a golf-ball sized tumor from the head of Andy, my fiancé, and nothing else could be done. It was a matter of six months, at the most.

“Time to take up parachuting,” one of the doctors joked. What he meant was to do something out of the ordinary before it was too late.

For an obsessive-compulsive like Andy, this wasn’t something to be taken lightly because control through rigid routines was one of the touchstones for his particular kind of OCD. His grown daughter and I decided we wouldn’t say anything about dying because we knew he’d be obsessing about death instead of enjoying whatever time he had left. If this included parachuting, so be it.

Andy was the first Jewish man for me, the shiksa, the Scandinavian-born academician and writer, who had long depended on her Protestant heritage to get her through life’s hardships. He, on the other hand, was a pragmatist, a man who didn’t believe in anything that couldn’t be proven through the five senses. He scoffed at all religion and esoteric debates were not for him, although he was good-natured enough to go along with the few holiday traditions I observed. Still, he’d get agitated by any mention of faith and prayer.

“How can any intelligent person believe in that nonsense?” he said. “Religion is a scourge. Just look at how it’s caused persecution of the Jews. Anybody who believes there’s a God has got to be stupid.”

“B-b-but…” My speech always became a stutter when he called me stupid. “This is not about organized religion. It’s about soul and believing in something beyond ourselves; that’s all.”

“Soul, shmoal. It’s all nonsense,” was his usual retort and I knew from his face it was the end of that subject. If I tried to explain myself he got really angry and his verbal outbursts scared me.

Even though Andy didn’t speak directly about his impending departure I believed that he knew and I wanted to do whatever I could to please him during his last few months. Since his kind of OCD came with an uncontrollable desire to organize and control his environment, and this meant all kinds of rituals that he simply had to perform till he was satisfied, I decided to focus on what gave him so much comfort in the past. As the tumor raged on, I saw how the old routines soothed him even more and I was determined to follow his lead in this.

One night, when I tucked him into bed and we chit-chatted about the day, he folded his hands across his chest and closed his eyes as if in a pose of praying. Instinctively I asked if he wanted me to say a prayer with him, but the moment the words came out I was filled with guilt. Hadn’t I promised myself to let him set the tone for his own passing?

“Yes.” His answer surprised me both with its strength and its message. Yes? Did he really want me to pray with him or was his mind so far gone that he didn’t know what he was saying?

With a bit of hesitation that comes after you regret your impulsiveness, I feigned a cheerful voice as if praying had always been part of our customary bedtime activities.

FOOTNOTE:  The heart is an old Scandinavian symbol, and not just something for Valentine’s Day. Each of these hearts is painted with a portion of an age-old Scandinavian prayer that speaks about a God who loves all his children equally and is here for us, no matter where we go in the world.






Cami Ann Hofstadter is a published author and educator in Miami, Florida. Under different names for different genres, she’s in venues from a law review to a local newspaper. She had a long-standing monthly column in Miami Today, and continues to do human interest stories that challenge the thought-processes of her readers. Check out her latest piece in the Feb. 2012 issue of Golf Digest to see how years of caring for a depressive, obsessive-compulsive man continues to provide rich fodder for her current work on a book about loving a person like that. She’s also trying her hands at a play about a Holocaust-related incident in her native Scandinavia.


Get more info, ‘how to’s’ and ‘what if’s’ about Lois’ Tales2Inspire project



About loiswstern

I was in education for just over 20 years when I unexpectedly pursued another passion and entered the world of authors and journalists. I have since published two non-fiction, full length books on different aspects of beauty, but also avidly endorse the confluence of Inner and Outer beauty. I have written feature articles for Long Island Beauty Guide and LI Woman, and have served as Editor-at-large for MakeMeHeal.com, the largest Internet site for plastic surgery and beauty needs. I enjoy researching what's new in the world of aesthetics & anti-aging and devote one of my blogs: www.FabulousBeautyBlog.wordpress.com to sharing cutting edge, hype-free information. I devote my second blog to my other passion: writing, collecting and sharing stories to warm the spirit and inspire the soul. To this end, I have created an 'Authors Helping Authors' project/contest, to create books for inspiration, the first of which is titled: Tales 2 Inspire ~ Beyond Coincidence. It is a jewel of a book, filled with inspiring stories and full color original photos and/or drawings. If you're a talented writer with one inspiring story to share, visit www.tales2inspire.com to learn how to participate. FREE to enter. All you need is the talent and perseverance to do so. Lots of positive platform building opportunities for the winners. Learn more at: www.tales2inspire.com.

Posted on October 30, 2012, in "Tales2Inspire Writer's Contest", Tales2Inspire, Tales2Inspire Contest, TALES2INSPIRE WRTERS CONTEST, Words to Inspire and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Margaret Reardon

    I am an editor and book reviewer. Ms. Hofstadter’s story is well told and interesting in a number of ways. There are several aspects, or layers, that might appeal to many people and for many different reasons. First, there is the poignant image of a man living out his last days, accepting his condition but not despairing. Then, we learn that he is afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder, that he manages well with it, and that it is in his obsessions that he seems to find peace of mind. Living with a person with OCD, especially when his behaviour can be frightening, must be difficult, yet, although it is clear that his fiancée loves him, we must wonder how she copes; perhaps in a longer form that could be explained. The couples’ clash of opinions on religion is certainly a timely aspect, but I found the mystery of the Jewish atheist knowing the Lord’s Prayer particularly surprising, and intriguing. What story lies behind that mystery? There are certainly enough ideas here to fill a book and it would, no doubt, interest a wide range of readers.

  2. Ann,
    I was touched by your story and your willingness to honor your fiancé’s wishes but also the longing in your heart. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. It is wonderful to hear how comforting prayers can be. Thank you for a window into a sacred time in your life and God bless you for an end-of-life commitment to your fiance.

  4. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read my tale and commenting on it. Since I haven’t gotten the hang of all these electronic avenues yet I realize I should have been much more responsive myself and commented on all the tales I read and enjoyed: mea culpa! This is the year I’m going to learn blogging and website skills etc.
    And for those who wondered about what happened after my fiance died: I’m now married to my absolute soul-mate, who’s very supportive of all my writing.

  5. What a wonderful, inspring story, especially meaningful for secular, non-religious people. You are an excellent writer and I encourage you to tell us more. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Nancy, it pleases me to no end to learn how each of the tales contributed into this “Authors Helping Authors’ project has reached the hearts and minds of those who read them. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.
      Very best,
      Lois W. Stern
      Creator of the Tales2Inspire contest

  6. Since dying may be the ultimate submission and loss of self control, it must be particularly difficult for someone with OCD. If dying takes us into a state of nothingness, then prayer may give us comfort by validating our existence giving us an illusion of control. The Sh’ma and the Lords Prayer presume someone is listening and that someone was at least the author.
    A beautiful love story. It just seems to need one more paragraph. What prayer will the author recite when her time arrives.? Who will be listening?

    • Interesting question, Alfred, and one we could each ask ourselves.
      Thanks for reading and leaving your thought provoking comment.
      Lois W. Stern
      Creator of the Tales to Inspire, “Authors Helping Authors” project/contest.

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