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Every Smile Is a Miracle

I’m a seatbelt fanatic with straight teeth.

This will all make sense in a moment.

You see, everyone knows that when I’m the driver the car doesn’t move until everyone is properly buckled. It’s no surprise that my babies always had the right car seats. As they grew, I consulted experts for proper positioning and requirements to make even their smallest journeys as safe as possible.

I know it’s to be expected, but even in this regard, my children are growing up different than me. Seatbelts were newly mandatory in the 70s. They were not yet considered a passenger’s #1 safety mechanism.

To my high school friends and me, they were a real bother. Many times we would hop in a car and ride on without buckling up. Seatbelts? Are you kidding? The shoulder strap would ruin our hair or crease our outfits. There were better things to focus on, fun was awaiting us, and we just didn’t have the patience to strap ourselves in.

While my friends and I were eager for our licenses, I personally had a much stronger yearning: all I wanted was for my braces to be REMOVED once and for all!

It was November 1983, and I was in the home stretch of my orthodontic era. For months, my orthodontist promised they would be removed…..next month. So by October, I lost my patience. “Just one more month,” he said. Another month…sigh….well, what was I to say?

Flashback to the scene with my friends and me in the car, sans seatbelts. I am on the passenger’s side in the front seat, a friend is in the middle, and another girl is driving. Music is on but not too loudly. Starry night. Content.

We leave the main highway and navigate country roads that border cornfields. This is farmer territory; they drive their plows from the roads to the fields all the time. No big deal. Until numerous tracks form a path up a small hill and make it appear as if the road – coming into a T intersection – continues up that same hill.

We realize too late. The driver makes a delayed left turn which forces the car to skid up the side of the hill and slam into the ditch. Of course, the passenger side meets the crash with the fullest force.

No seatbelt to protect me, my head rams into and smashes the passenger window, then rams again into the windshield, fragments of glass spraying everywhere. I’m unconscious.

The other girls step out, the driver with fractured ribs, dazed and shocked. I hear dulled voices screaming at me to move. I can’t. They’re hysterical, telling me to get out of the car because it might blow up. Whether this was a coy to get me to move, I’ll never know, but it worked.

Foggy, dazed and shocked, I stepped out of the car. I realize broken glass is in my mouth and spit it out. Somehow, we manage to walk the entire length of a farmer’s driveway and ask for help. (No cell phones back then, remember?)

I take a look at myself in the mirror of their bathroom and cry. My face is huge, swollen and disfigured. I look closer and realize my jaw has shifted out of alignment with the rest of my face. I can barely open my mouth.

That’s all I remember. I don’t know how I got home or to the hospital. My next memory is lying on a hospital bed, a very empathetic doctor at my side, apologizing profusely for the excruciating pain he was about to deliver when he locked my jaw back into place. There was no other choice; it simply had to be done, and right away.

Yes, I screamed, yes, my brother cried as he watched me scream. Quite traumatic.

The doctor continued by expressing the miracle of not only surviving the crash, but going through it with braces on. My orthodontist’s whim of giving me yet another month in braces had saved my face from traumatic injury, not to mention all of my teeth.

My jaw was fractured in three places. It needed to be restrained in order to heal. My braces were wired shut for one month, during which time I learned 1) even the most flavorful ice cream can become a dull treat, 2) spaghetti and meatballs taste the same when they’re blended and sucked through a straw, 3) what a blessing it is to be able to YAWN. (Try avoiding it for a month and you’ll know what I mean.)

Now you can understand why my passengers sometime feel like everyone is strapping up to go into outer space when they drive with me? More than this, do you see the miracles, especially of the ‘Braces That Felt Like They Would Be On Forever’?

There’s a reason I chose to discuss orthodontics this week.

Just recently, I was informed of at least 6 girls at the Home who are in dire need of orthodontics to improve their

Lev LaLev Girl shies away from the camera, embarrassed by her teeth and headgear

severely misaligned teeth. Already, our supporters provide each girl with basic dental care, so I have no doubt that these sweet, vulnerable girls will eventually have what they need. That’s just the type of people who donate to Lev LaLev: People who are always ready to go above and beyond the call of duty.

This reminds me of a lesson in this week’s Torah portion, Chayei Sarah, which highlights Eliezer’s quest for someone to fill the esteemed position as the wife of Isaac.  Upon arriving in Haran, Eliezer finds Rivka at the well and asks her for water. The Torah tells us that she “quickly lowered her jug and gave him water to drink.” When she finished, Rivka said, “I will also draw water for your camels until they finish drinking.”

Extending her kindness so much more than what was being asked of her propelled Rivka into the role as one of the future mothers of the Jewish nation.  Amazing how wondrous things occur when we strive to meet the greater needs of others.

Becoming a seatbelt fanatic wasn’t the only result of my accident. The memory of this event reminds me of G-d’s protection over me, not only when He rescued me from danger, but even the added blessing of  a normal life without severe dental maladies.

Thanks so much for listening. And especially for any help you provide so that our abused and neglected girls can have the same opportunity.

Rachel Weinstein

Director of Development

8 comments

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  5. Rachel Weinstein

    So glad you enjoyed! And thanks for tuning in.

    Rachel

  6. Mimmi

    Wow! Amazing story!! Chasdei Hashem!

  7. Dave

    Great story. Who could have imagined.!

    1. Rachel Weinstein

      Thanks, Dave! So glad I could share this with you.

      Rachel

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