As I was preparing my Shabbat table, the phone rang. Valerie said, “My mother is at the Newton Wellesley Hospital. She needs an emergency pacemaker, or she won’t survive the weekend.”

“Oh, my poor sister!” I gasped.

“It’s the weekend of the Boston Marathon and due to the fact the hospital is on the route, no surgeons were on staff to operate. The marathon runners run right by the hospital,” explained Valerie. “The staff is searching for Boston hospitals to find one with a medical team to operate on her this weekend.”

“I will pray for her,” I whispered. I looked outside my kitchen window at the coming dusk and then dialed my daughter, Debra, hoping she would answer. I started leaving a message. “My sister is in the hospital … ”

Out of breath, Debra picked up the phone and said, “We will say a mi sheberach prayer for her at shul. Baila, bas Chana Sarah, I remember from her previous operations.”

Going into the dining room, I set the table for one as I have for several years now, put three tall candles in the candlesticks, covered the two challahs with a cloth, poured the wine into my cup then looked up at the picture of my late husband, Adam, on the wall.

As I lit the Shabbat candles, I prayed for a miracle to help my sister. I ate what I could, a slice of challah; I tasted the chicken soup with noodles, along with some chicken and a cookie.

As I sat in the living room watching the candles burn down, I noticed the pictures. Baila and me with our late brother, and both of us together with our late husbands. All these relatives passed away, except for my sister and me.

Baila has stage four metastatic breast cancer. She takes medication that stalls the spread to other areas of her body. Recently, she had to have new doctors, a new primary-care physician, plus a new oncologist and a heart specialist.

Last month, Baila phoned and said, “I don’t feel well and my primary-care doctor advised me to go to urgent care. I did. They told me I need a hospital. Could you drive me? I don’t want to call 911.”

I picked her up and drove her to the Newton Wellesley Hospital. They admitted her, took tests and then advised her to go to a heart specialist.

Just this morning, Baila phoned again. “I don’t feel well, and my primary-care doctor gave me an appointment at 11 o’clock today. I don’t feel well.”

I considered picking her up and driving her again, but it was a hard drive for me. “You have four daughters, choose one to drive you,” I suggested. Looking back, she should have dialed 911.

On Shabbat, not well enough to walk to shul anymore, I sat outside and watched the multi-colored leaves fall to the ground. As each season passes, the old leaves die and new foliage covers the growing tree. But the tree grows stronger and taller.

My rabbi had talked about how the Torah is like a tree of life. “It is a tree of life (etz chayim) for those who grasp it, and those who support it are fortunate.” He quoted from Proverbs (3:18).

A tree is alive, a part of nature; it bears fruit and provides shelter. The Torah’s teachings, like the tree, provide support, faith and encouragement. The good deeds we do are its fruit. I needed to hold on to its support now as I remembered the prayers that were being said in synagogue for my sister.

On Saturday night after Shabbat, Valerie called, “My mother had an emergency pacemaker operation. One of their surgeons, Dr. Coronda, came with his team to operate. He put the pacemaker on the right side since the mastectomy is on her left side. She is doing great—much better than I thought.”

“A miracle,” I cried.

Debra called and said, “Not only did we do a mi sheberach prayer, at our shul, but the Young Israel of Sharon did one also.”

“A doctor took time off from his holiday to operate with his team to put the pacemaker in my sister,” I said. “But it’s the prayers that gave us the true miracle.”

As I hung up the phone, I looked at the large tree outside and again reflected on my husband, Adam, and the many good deeds he did when he was alive. If he were here, he would say: “The Torah is a tree of life.”