I have always believed in miracles. Since childhood, when I thought pretty much everything was a miracle. At five, when you don’t understand science or logic all that well, a ball bouncing down the sidewalk all by itself seems pretty special. As years passed in increments, I saw more evidence of miracles. I saw rainbows and reflections of light in puddles of rain. And of course, there was the Slinky. So, to my mind’s eye, the more I saw, the more I believed. It is a charming way to perceive the world. Moreover, it fills you with the idea that nothing is impossible. And that concept shaped my life. Miracles, the “technically unexplainable,” happen in spite of people who say they can’t or write them off to mere coincidence.

One month ago, I was literally running out of breath. The breath of life. My lungs were dying When I started to hear, amongst others, the stories of Chanukah, I knew I was one lucky girl. My Jewish identity was inextricably tied to this phenomenon. It was then that it was made clear to me that there was in fact an “architect” of miracles, our Creator. He wills everything into being, sometimes with our compliance, sometimes in spite of us, sometimes simply because it’s His choice, His plan. And miracles happen because He wants them to and humanity needs them. He loves us.

For those of you who know me from these pages, the fact that I can sit here now, without being tethered to an oxygen supply, and simply breathe in and out as I write, is a miracle. One month ago, I was literally running out of breath. The breath of life. My lungs were dying. And while my hope and belief in life were alive and well, the idea was to get my body to catch up with my faith. This required some work.

Since childhood, I had been in oxygen tents during the winter, with very bad asthma. As years went by, it developed into emphysema (prevalent on both sides of my family), until finally, at the rather early age of forty-eight years old, doctors said I needed a double-lung transplant to keep on keeping on.

As I have recounted before on these pages, my physical world was shrinking. And once I was on oxygen, the danger of lighting candles on Shabbat or Chanukah was an obvious one. Oxygen and flames don’t mix. A major fire hazard. Yes, I suppose I could have taken off the oxygen, lit the candles, and let them burn. But it’s not recommended. And did G‑d want me to do this? My guess was, “not so much.” Often, I would flick a light switch on and bring in Shabbat. The intent was there but it felt melancholy. To bring some sweetness into Shabbat, I told myself that it would not always be this way. I would breathe again. If G‑d wanted me to breathe again, together we would find a way.

And so I followed the doctor’s orders and I also increased my Torah study. And slowly I replaced what I could no longer do with things I could certainly do, and I even began to enjoy these new ventures. Most of them were spiritual in nature (so what isn’t?). I read; I listened to Tanya on Chabad.org; I started to learn to read Hebrew. I asked the questions that I could no longer put off—the existential ones and the seemingly simple ones. I got answers. And in those answers, other miracles emerged. I kept living and as much as my lungs were dying, I was beginning to live a whole new part of my life.

I re-connected. To my roots, to some people in my family with whom I had become estranged. I came to know and learn that I was meant to be here. The list, quite frankly, is rather long. And while I had moments of sadness and some fear, ultimately they were outweighed by a huge, loving and beyond infinite G‑d.

Months were passing. And as my number on the transplant list climbed, my heart climbed with it. And you know what was the most beautiful thing? I never for one moment doubted I would be fine. If I were to think for one moment that my life would be lost, to me that was tantamount to saying that G‑d was not to be trusted. And if you can’t trust Him, who you are you going to trust?

More time passed. When I went to bed at night, I could hear my lungs crackling. I needed more medication. To say that I felt these lungs were disintegrating inside my body would not be an exaggeration. I prayed. G‑d, do what You think is best for me. I cannot presume to know Your plan. But You know what my plan is. Please G‑d, let’s get together on this one!

Slowly I replaced what I could no longer do with things I could certainly do and I even began to enjoy these new ventures My husband and I waited for the phone to ring every day, the phone call that would come and say that lungs were available for me. And here I learned patience at a whole new level.

You know, that phone rang. It finally rang at 12:30 p.m., on a Tuesday. It was time. It was time to JUST DO IT! How did I react? My daughter told me I was visibly vibrating and yet I was calm. OK, excited. This was it.

I won’t go into all the details of every feeling I had up until the time I was taken down to surgery, but let me tell you the importance of love. My husband and children were there. And when I got to the hospital by ambulance, my rabbi and his wife were already waiting for me. No one was luckier than me at that moment, I was sure. No one was more loved. And my miracle was unfolding with every tick of the clock.

An operation that normally takes six to eight hours took four. An operation where one is usually put on a heart machine did not require it. An operation where pints of blood are needed required only one pint.

In two days, I was walking. In less than two days, the color was back in my body. And most directly, I could breathe on my own. Asthma was gone. Emphysema was gone. I was told by my surgeon, a few days later, that my lungs had had only six months left in them.

I write this article from my house. My office, which I have reclaimed, because now I can GET to it, is becoming beautiful. My friend Lily brought me a set of three hanging plates for the wall. One says “health,” the next says “family,” and the last says “laughter”…It brightens my heart.

Another thing. I have a treadmill. Before the surgery, my maximum effort was thirty minutes on three litres of oxygen at 1.9 speed. Now, no oxygen, forty-five minutes at 2.5 speed at an incline of 2. And I break the most beautiful sweat. And I can’t stop smiling.

I can breathe. In and out, out and in. I can light Shabbat candles and soon Chanukah candles. And those other simple things, like brushing my teeth and climbing a flight of stairs on my own.

As you know, though, I have never been on my own during this journey. We are never on our own. G‑d is there. G‑d and His miracles. In all shapes and sizes. And we are all His miracles. The breath of life. He breathes it into us every morning. One way or another, while we are still here, He makes it possible.

I have never been on my own during this journey I plan on making this the most beautiful Chanukah with candles that we will light in our window. The light that shows the people on the streets that G‑d is here. He lives in every breath we take.

Next time we speak, I will have more to tell you. Just let me take this opportunity to thank you all from the deepest part of my heart, for your kindness, compassion, your actions and thoughts, your prayers and most of all your unwavering belief in miracles and the love of the One who chooses to embrace us.

Let us all be together this Chanukah, loving every human being, connected by the light in our hearts, in our soul; every ray crossing and reaching through and around, reaching into places that we may not see, but surely G‑d has designed.

Happy Chanukah!

Your friend, Masha