Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I just got back from the shloshim ceremonies for Mikey Butler, z"l. I feel so lucky that the event took place in Jerusalem and that therefore I was able to go. I'd been feeling sort of isolated in my mourning for Mikey, even though I knew that thousands of other people miss him at least as much as I do. It was cathartic to be in the same room as Mikey's parents and friends and hear them speak beautiful words about him and the legacy he left us: the inspiration to appreciate what we have, and thank God for everything He has given to us -- day by glorious day.

Mikey may be playing the drums in the next world, but the ripples he created are still spreading. Just today a new friend of mine here in Jerusalem, Miriam, called to offer me a ride to the Shloshim. I declined since I live only a few blocks from the synagogue where the event was held, but since Miriam grew up in England I was interested to know how she knew Mikey.

"I didn't," she replied. "You told me about him a few weeks ago, and I want to go to the Shloshim and show support for his parents."

As Mikey's mother wrote in a recent update, even from beyond, Mikey is inspiring ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

The main theme of the many moving eulogies is our desire to continue the traditions that Mikey started. To appreciate the privilege most of us have to live normal lives, with all the standard annoyances -- at work, in marriage, in school-- that Mikey could never experience because he was too sick. To thank everyone who ever does a kindness for us, even if the kindness is to stick us with a painful needle so the medicine will make us feel better. To understand that we don't understand God's plan -- and that therefore we must assume that anything that happens in our lives is a gift from Him.

Pretty intense. Afterward, I was so happy to be invited out to dinner with Ari and Sarah Beth and their kids. We went to Yoja, an Oriental (I hesitate to say Chinese because really I think it might be Thai or Vietnamese or something) restaraunt on Emek Refaim. It felt so good to be with a whole family whom I love so much and whose love for me I feel so strongly. They always welcome me like I'm part of their family, and it's hard to express how much that means to me.

Yaakov G., who used to be an NCSYer of mine, also ate with us. I wouldn't have thought it, but it was strangely comfortable having him there. It was nice to see how he's grown up; he's been through a lot in the last few years, and what he paid for with pain, I can see he gained in maturity and depth. From a nice kid, what a nice man he's become! Plus, knowing that he's also done UYO made me feel a special kinship with him. The whole thing was so nice, me and Sarah Beth and Ari and the kids and Yaakov, in our little circle of mutual understanding and respect. It's nice to have people with whom I can just be myself.

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