A few years ago, I had an operation to remove a cataract from my left eye. I was advised to wait for my right eye. The doctor said, “Call if your eyesight gets worse, and we will schedule the surgery.”

Then came COVID.

During that time, I found it more and more difficult to read and to cook. It felt like each passing day I was being surrounded by more and more darkness.

As a senior with medical issues and anxiety, I was unable toI have become used to being alone participate in holiday services with my family. Since COVID, I have become used to being alone, and even if everyone wears masks, I’m not comfortable taking chances by being around people.

After a long wait, followed by two weeks of even stricter social-distancing, the day came for the surgery. The night before, I had stopped eating and could only drink until 10 a.m. The surgery was scheduled for a little after noon.

Wearing a mask, my son Mike drove me to the hospital for the operation. Once there, we called reception and were told that there was a 45-minute wait, maybe longer. We could wait either in the car or in a waiting room. We chose the car. Mike put on some music, and we listened to Chanukah songs, including my favorite, “Chanukah, oh Chanukah, come light the menorah...”

After an hour, Mike called again and found out that our wait could be another hour or so; they didn’t know how many patients were ahead of me. By that time, I didn’t feel well since I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in many hours.

I also needed a restroom, so we went inside, up the elevator, into what I considered a crowded room. I felt danger everywhere. I was so afraid that I wanted to cancel the operation and go home. I closed my eyes and prayed for the strength to triumph over my fears and overcome my anxiety.

That’s when I heard Mike’s cell phone ring; it was my turn for the operation.

A nurse came out and asked me questions before letting me into the office alone. I handed Mike my cane. He touched my arm—a human touch I hadn’t felt in five months.

The nurse must have felt my emotions because she said, “These are dark, difficult times.”

What an understatement, I thought, as I entered alone and was told in which chair to sit. The nurse followed me so I wouldn’t fall.

My surgeon came out and put an X over my right eye. There were two other patients waiting. We discussed how long the wait had been both for the scheduling and the day itself.

Finally, they took me into surgery.

The anesthesiologist put in the IV, while one nurse put in drops and another took vital signs.

I hadn’t been near so many people in months, and again, I felt overwhelmed, but I silently prayed as I kept answering their questions. Finally, I was wheeled into the operating room.

The chair went down and then came the needle, and before I knew it, the operation was over. They gave me many instructions regarding recovery: the eye drops, not to get my face wet, when to see my doctor.

As soon as I took off the patch over my eye, I looked around and I could see. It was as though my world had gone from darkness to light. And that’s when I realized the connection between the music we had been listening to in the car, my operation, and the approaching holiday of Chanukah.

On Chanukah, a small band of Jews fought against the huge GreekDespite all odds, they triumphed army. Despite all odds, they won. They won because they had faith that G‑d would give them the strength to triumph. Then they found a single flask of pure oil, enough for just one day. But they did their part and lit the menorah. Miraculously, it remained burning for eight days, until they could procure more.

My cataract operation was like my own little Chanukah triumph—my personal victory of overcoming my anxiety, and my universe turning from darkness to light.

A little bit of light brightens up a whole lot of darkness. We need to do our part, strengthen our faith, and G‑d will help us.

For the past few years, I couldn’t see in the dark well enough to join in the festivities at the public lighting of the menorah in downtown Natick, Mass. G‑d willing, this year they will be able to hold the festivities, and I will be able to join. Together, we will all sing, “Chanukah, oh Chanukah, come light the menorah...” And I will be able to relish the brightness.