Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Funeral for a friend

November 17, 2014

This is a blog post I wish I didn’t have to write. But since writing is therapy, I have to do it.

A friend who I have known since high school died last Monday. We weren’t really close as teens but we went to the same synagogue and spent time together at youth group and summer camp. We got to know each other a bit better in college with LOTS of mutual friends. Then we didn’t connect again until we served on a non-profit board together about 20 years ago. He was a CPA and served as treasurer for many years. I needed an accountant after starting my business in 2000 and my husband and I chose him. It turned into an excellent professional relationship peppered with many mutual friends and interests from our past.

Actually it was the perfect professional relationship. We didn’t socialize together. But, like the middle of a Venn diagram, we had many friends and interests in common.

Jeff Berkman bike photoMy friend, who was a month older than me but a year ahead in school because of how the schools determined when one would start public school, was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago. It hit close to home because it was within weeks of when my niece was diagnosed with lymphoma. He went through chemo and ultimately got a bone marrow transplant donated from his brother and administered by The Hutch.  Like my niece, he had a great outcome! He went into remission and celebrated his new life for nearly the next five years by spending lots of time with his wife and three kids, traveling regularly with his family and parents and brother to Lake Chelan and Hawaii, and cutting back his work hours. He raised bees and chickens, rowed and biked. From what I could see, he chose to live life to its absolute fullest.

Then last month we heard that his leukemia had returned – nearly five years after his first diagnosis. Dang it all! He went through major chemo. The chemo zapped the leukemia. But it also zapped him. He died of complications from chemo and a hellacious couple of weeks.

We went to the funeral on Friday. The synagogue where he had attended religious school, where he was married, where his brother and parents were married as well, served as the venue for the service. A crowd of at least 400 showed up. His friends. His parents’ friends. His kids’ friends. Clients. Neighbors. Many others who he had touched over the years.Jeff Berkman photo

As I listened to the rabbi’s eulogy, I had to wonder – as everyone else in the room was wondering – why? We always wonder that when someone dies “before his or her time.” There is no right answer. We all have to try to figure it out on our own.

I have to believe that there is a why. That’s how I look at things. So, here’s my simple, by-no-means original take-away. The ONLY lesson I can take from this is that we need to celebrate, celebrate, celebrate all the good  times and not sweat the small stuff – none of it! That’s hard to do as we’re stuck in traffic, worried about our kids, frustrated by so-called “first world problems.” This isn’t a major revelation or anything like that, just a bit of something that perhaps will help us learn from this. Hug your kids. Kiss your spouse or significant other. Tell your parents you love them. Every time the sun comes out, take a few minutes away from the screen to go out and enjoy it. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Enjoy today. Every day.

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Bendichas Manos

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