The steps. Many of them. Once they were easy, skipping down... Today, each one has weight. The first time descending these very steps, I carrying my baby, my husband carrying the toddler, the other children skipping ahead and behind us. Today I carry each one separately. Each one a separate golden weight. Each my one and only precious, beloved weight. And I move forward and downward, slowly.... Down is how it feels; but this descent is to holiness. The plaza has changed over the years; the palpable holiness has not. How easily the paintbrush of consciousness brushes away the population streaming towards and away from the Kotel (Western Wall in Jerusalem). It's only myself... Memories and hopes and fears and prayers.

And suddenly I'm startled by a soft intrusion, a hand on my back. "Is it you?" she asks in wonder? I hadn't seen Shira in ten years. She was young and confused then. And now here she stands with a child by the hand and an infant in her snugli. Mazel tov! How happy I am to see her! When last we saw each other it was at my Shabbat table, she wasn't sure she'd ever have her own, nor was she sure she'd want one. And then the decision to move to Israel, study Torah, and now she is a wife and mother.

She asks, of course, about my family—she remembered and loved them all. And then she talks about her own journey. I see her beautiful and content... but she says it's no more than her facade. There on that ground, soaked through with tears of joy and despair, she adds her own.

Her husband of five years is different, she tells me. He seemed always loving and accepting; now she is expectant with a child who will need special care. It is early on in the pregnancy, the doctor and social worker at the clinic offer her escape. She needn't birth this not-yet-child, they tell her. This child will never be normal, will always need medical care and therapies and someone available every instant for every normal function. This child, they tell her, won't be able to go to school, and learn a trade, and be its own source of support. This child will exhaust them mentally, emotionally, physically and financially.

This child, she says, is my child. Mine and my husband's. But her husband feels differently.

"It's not yet our child," he tells her. "It is not yet developed enough to be our child. It has no resemblance to any of our children." And the burden is just too great for him to bear. He insists she find the words to say to G‑d, "Thank you for the blessings You've given us; this time we thank You for the possibility to safely and with much support avert the future heartache this will bring." He wants for them to make an appointment with their doctor, and proceed to maintain the integrity of their family as it is. And she is heartbroken. Unable to face the reality of the future, unable to move away from the identity of 'my child.'

Her husband is on the men's side, praying for guidance. I sit with her while she waits for him, and then all go for 'a coffee'; outside an art gallery, on most uncomfortable chairs, we talk.

He is quite adamant. He loves his wife dearly; he loves his children dearly; he will not jeopardize the comfort of his family. There are challenges enough that life brings, he says, without inviting the most difficult. And he insists that discontinuing this progress is in the best interest of his family. "G‑d gives us choices," he says. "We have the best medical expertise, and we have the freedom to make honest, healthy decisions."

But Shira is heartbroken and now turns angry. Accuses him of being insensitive and selfish. Accuses him of thinking of himself only. Accuses him of having no faith. And in her tirade, he shrinks. Eyes no longer meeting mine, shoulders sloping downwards, his whole body under assault.

His faith is intact, he tells me quietly. But she cannot hear it. He is heartbroken too, but she refuses to acknowledge that. She knows only that he wants to take her child from her, and will not hear his own torment. "But I'm the husband," he says, "and the father. And I need to use every bit of knowledge available to me to make this decision. Being sensitive to her feelings doesn't oblige me to decide by them."

Here they sit, a child on each lap. Together building their home and future, they've erected a wall between them. It takes some time, but each eventually can let the voice of the other in. We talk about their consulting a rabbi who is expert in both the law and the medical issues; someone who is expert, as well, in family counseling. And, we talk of how great is the love they have for each other; what they need now is to develop a respect each for the other's opinion. They will consult someone, they agree. They have some time yet to make this decision; they will use the time in productive research and counseling; they will avoid discussion between just the two of them.

Another cup of coffee...they leave with their children. I touch the stones of the Kotel again with my eyes...and begin the ascent...step after step after step.