death and bereavement

Losing and Gaining: Never Easy

Nope – this isn’t a post about a woman’s constant struggle with weight gain….it’s quick  and not too “emo” so,  sit for a minute.

Yair

Yair Shapiro, zt”l

2 weeks ago, our cousin was on a day trip, hiking in the desert, when he fell from a 50 meter cliff to his tragic death. This was not some remote cousin who popped up once a year for a family get-together, this cousin called 3-4 times a week sometimes 3-4 times a day and stayed with us for holidays and weekends. This cousin was well-recognized around the neighborhood and everyone who met him from what I’ve heard only had the nicest, even if most-generic, comments about how pleasant he was.

He was single, though he tried throughout the years to pinpoint the kind of women he was looking for to make a lasting relationship and family with yet he was unsuccessful. He got lonely and depressed like most of us did, watching others move on with their lives and loved ones while we were single and in search of…Mr. or Miss Right. We encouraged and suggested new activities that might help him meet different women, we listened and understood the frustrations that come along with not knowing the future, and we set him up with good women from good families and he mostly had good experiences, just never seemed to click with anyone specific for a long-term relationship to blossom.

He was bright and knowledgeable with an outstanding memory of all things in history but struggled with learning disabilities though it never seemed to slow or deter him from his academic goals. Reaching for higher degrees and publishing an article in his field were no small feat but he was dedicated to his research even though he understood that meant he would need to find a partner who could appreciate his was a labor of love, not one that would bring great financial reward. He was not in it for the fame and fortune, he was proud of his accomplishments and yearned to be respected for his work and nothing more.

He was a grateful cousin, always thanking me for hosting him for the holidays, weekends, meals, and conversations. He brought gifts that were thoughtful and useful and always tried to bring something he knew that would put a smile on my face. He challenged my husband when discussing religion or politics and laughed with my children about sports, t.v. shows and movies. In every conversation he would inquire about the health of my parents and my in-laws, how the children were doing in school and if I had had a hard day.

The hardest thing to overcome was the finality. Not having one last opportunity to say what was truly in our hearts to one another. Sure, every conversation was honest and he knew how I felt about him because I would tell him just as often as he would tell me. However one never knows what they would say if they knew they had only one last time to say anything, until after, and then it’s too late.

2 weeks ago, we lost a cousin but gained perspective. To lose something so dear in such a shocking way?  We may never recover. Time will heal the pain and with every new, “life without Yair” moment we will look back and smile because he was so good to us. The biggest lesson I learned, even though I knew it all along, was to act like each day may be my last. Not in a morbid way, rather,  that each action towards others is something to be taken seriously. Be the very best version of yourself all the time so that when you leave this world, others will only have kind words to say and not feel regret or anger. Smile even when you feel sad. Put someone else’s needs before your own. Surround yourself with positive energy.  Measure your words. Think before you speak. Apologize when you are wrong. Hug with intensity. Love with a full heart.

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