On November 10, 2015—my fortieth birthday—I found myself in a dilapidated departure gate at JFK Airport, waiting to board a Qantas flight to Sydney, Australia with my family.
The airport was a lousy place to spend a birthday. There was no champagne, no friends, no drunken toasts—just the florescent glow of an aging terminal, reflecting the weary patience of countless long-haul travelers. My wife Tali and I had already celebrated in fine style a few days before, a surprise party at a rooftop bar filled with cold drinks and old friends. Now, as late afternoon approached dinnertime, we spent our energy trying to entertain our three sons—Gilad, eight, and his twin brothers Yaniv and Nadav, who’d just turned four.
It had only been an hour since we’d arrived at the airport, but the adrenaline of a new adventure was already wearing off. Much of the terminal was under construction, the food options were limited, and our sons were getting cranky. I felt for the boys; it wasn’t much fun sitting around in an empty terminal with nothing to do.
But I had every reason to be excited. Tali and I loved to travel, and Australia was one of our favorite places. My mother is from Sydney, and much of my family was still there; Tali had worked there for four years before we knew each other. That small intersection eventually led to us meeting and then, inevitably, falling in love. And now, for the first time, all five of us would be able to experience that part of our shared history together.
Still, the decision to go was not an easy one.
One of our sons—Nadav—had been born with a complicated heart defect, serious enough to require three surgeries by the age of four. Even then, there was no guarantee that he’d pull through; our hope was that he’d eventually be able to get a transplant as a teenager.
We’d spent the first four years of his life diligently doing our best to give him—and his brothers—the best life we could. For us, this required a little more effort, a little more patience, and a little more faith. We discovered an inner strength that I suspect all parents have, even if they don’t always realize it. And we found ourselves faced with some hard truths about the things we can—and can’t—control.
When the opportunity to travel to Australia presented itself, we’d consulted with his doctors. They didn’t object, as long as we took some precautions. And so, after much deliberation…
(to Tali’s eternal regret)
…we decided to go.