About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about how one of the toughest parts of making Aliyah alone, away from most of your family and friends, is not being present for the happy occasions. The weddings and bar mitzvahs, milestone birthdays and births. There will of course be the ones where you absolutely have to fly in and be there, but by and large you will miss some of the happiest days in your loved ones' lives. And that's a pain that exists separate from the happiness and contentment you have from living life in Israel. But those are the happy times. This is a world away from the deeper, more intense pain an Oleh will feel missing the sad stuff. Because life goes on back where you left it, and there's little you can do when you're six thousand miles away.
Why am I bringing this up now anyway? Last night a very close family friend lost her valiant battle against illness. Michelle was just 31 years old, a mother of two and pregnant with her third. She felt ill and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As her friends and family waited for further news, we all held our collective breaths. Not Michelle, this light in our lives who had already lost her father and brother in her short time here on Earth. Not Michelle, who was a living embodiment of goodness and kindness, beloved by everyone she ever met. And then came the verdict- a malignant brain tumor, the worst possible outcome. Michelle was put under and gave birth to a premature but healthy baby girl.
And the inhabitants of our world were galvanized- prayers and charity, hospital visits and more prayers. A miracle was needed, we all knew, and if anyone in the world deserved it, it was Michelle. But the miracle never came, and 3 beautiful little girls lost their mother. It is a sickening feeling to wake up to the news of someone so unbelievably good passing away so young and so unfairly. It is awful knowing that I can't be there at her funeral, can't pay a shiva call personally to her family and can't sit with my sister, one of Michelle's best friends for fifteen years, as she cries and mourns. These are things you can not do when you live so far away, and losses will invariably continue to happen in my life here. All I can do is be there for whomever, pay a shiva call by phone, and use this blog to pay tribute to one of the most special people I've ever known.
In tribute to Michelle, who cared about everyone she ever met more than she ever did herself. Who would do whatever she could to make you smile, make you happy, make you feel good. To Michelle who was loyal and fun, committed to her family, friends and G-d, and never judged anyone. To Michelle, who this world was blessed to have and will be forever dimmed by her loss. And to Michelle, who was a true gift to anyone lucky enough to know her, to be in her presence and to have known her goodness for the short time she was here. May her memory be for a blessing and may her soul have the highest possible Aliyah.