Why do I always think about you…write about you…and talk about you?
Not just when it’s your yartzeit or when we bench Rosh Chodesh Tammuz and I feel it in the air. That it’s coming closer again.
All the time.
Whenever I had to write an assignment, it went back to…Shalom. When I had to write a paper for college, it was on the topic of…Shalom. When I had to give a five minute presentation to my class-sociology of all topics, it also was about you, Shalom.
I talked about the color orange and how it is a unique blend of two colors. I explained that orange combines the passion of red with the warmth of yellow.
I spoke about the research done and that orange represents strength during difficult times. And then I said that it was your favorite color.
It’s mine too.
What did it mean for you?
It was THE color that spoke for the Jewish residents of Gaza who were expelled from their homes. The orange ribbons that adorned your bunkhouse that summer were symbolic; they showed that you cared about these unfortunate Jews. Your heart was with them in the summer of 2005. You hoped and prayed the expulsion of Gush Katif would not take place.
You cared about them-even though they didn’t look like you on the outside.
Shalom a”h, the yeshiva boy who always looked neat, in a clean white shirt, black hat and jacket, cared for the Jewish people in Gush Katif. Even though they dressed in shorts and colored shirts and wore sandals and those famous orange t-shirts.
You didn’t care about the outside. You cared about them because they were yidden-our brothers and sisters.
Did you know how much we cared about you? Did you know how much losing you would affect us? It still affects us…even .
We will never forget you.
And maybe that’s why, no matter where I go or what place I’m in, it always goes back to…Shalom.
I write about you.
I talk about you.
I think about you.
I care about you.
I love you…and I miss you.
And I’ll never, ever forget you.
I make sure of that by always bringing you up. When I have an opportunity to inspire others by the special stories about you, I share them. And they are touched and moved.
This past Shabbos, I was away with my family and overheard another woman talking about her birthday. When we got together for a Pirkei Avos shiur, she seemed to be somewhat sad about her age and shared some of her feelings with the women gathered there. I couldn’t resist. I opened my mouth and I spoke.
I spoke about how lucky she is to be able to celebrate another birthday and that not everybody gets to reach her age. R’ Avigdor Miller zt”l says that every birthday is a reason to celebrate and we should thank Hashem for another year of life.
And then I told my story…how my brother only lived until the age of fifteen and was niftar two weeks before his sixteenth birthday.
I talked about how it happened and I talked about (some of) the things that made you special.
I said how you cleaned up on motzei Shabbos nachamu after the dancing was over so that everyone would come to a clean, orderly bais medrash the following morning-only a few hours after you went to sleep.
I talked about how you did chessed in a quiet way, asking me to send staples for a staple gun after you overheard another kid in camp saying he needed one.
I was reminded of the time you broke your hand when you fell off your bike so you wouldn’t hurt a bird that was in your way. And I shared that story too…with the lesson of how we should be careful with the feelings of others.
There were plenty of stories I didn’t share.
But talking about you left a mark on a group of women who never met you.
Your life continues to inspire other people, even though you are no longer here.
And that is what I hope to continue to do. To inspire. To motivate. To encourage others that they too can achieve greatness-through the little things they do.
It’s the twelfth yartzeit but somehow, it’s hard to believe twelve years have passed since you were here in this world.
A lot happened in these twelve years.
Yet, thinking about you makes me feel like I just saw you. I just waved goodbye to you on that last visiting day we spent together.
The memories are so vivid; they are so clear.
So, while I wish you were still here with all of us, I keep reminding myself that this is all part of Hashem’s plan. A plan we cannot understand.
But it’s for the best.
That, along with the fact that the ripples of your life continue to spread, is what gives me comfort.
L’ilui nishmas Shalom ben Chaim Nosson