Fifteen years ago, a beloved cousin died in a car accident on the way to his dreams. He and his wife worked their entire lives as teachers and school administrators. And they had a dream that they talked about often. The dream was to leave
Chicago in retirement and to head to sunny Las Vegas. They purchased a house, they saved and they planned. And on the road in Colorado, with a car filled with their belongings, he died.
A few nights ago, I attended a funeral for another loving, funny man who faced a similar fate. His son, our friend, made Aliyah the same week we did, almost 10 years ago. Then our friend’s brother came on Aliyah with his family and settled in our area. And then, after finishing rewarding careers in
New York, their parents packed their bags and arrived in Israel just a few short months ago. They lived here in Neve Daniel with some of their children and grandchildren while they got settled, found an apartment in Jerusalem and managed the red tape of Aliyah. And then, just as their bookcases arrived and their apartment was settled, he had a heart attack, and left their dream behind.
How do we cope with these stories? How do we move on? What, really, can we learn from them that won’t leave us feeling angry and helpless? I’ve spent a few days wrestling with these questions.
Death is rarely welcome. It’s rarely well timed or desired. But what can we learn from, and how can we find some meaning in, these tragedies?
Certainly, these situations make me want to be a better person. They make me want to remember that each moment is precious and to try not to take life for granted. But sometimes, this line of reasoning leaves me feeling guilty because real life does get in the way, all the time, and it’s so very hard to enjoy each moment.
And while these men were cut down much, much too early, there is certainly much to admire about the paths they were on.
We will all go eventually, taken in a split second, at some point. But where will we be and what will we be doing? My cousin could have planned and planned but never actually fulfilled his dream. Yes, it is desperately sad that he died while en route to his future – but at least he was en route. He was on the way, fulfilling his dream and making his own destiny. Similarly, the dear father and grandfather who we mourned this week had finally fulfilled a dream. He was here – on the other side. He had accomplished a major life goal and had started to put his future into place.
In what ways do we walk towards our futures each day? Are we where we want to be? On the path we want to be on? Working, at least with little steps, towards the future we in vision for ourselves and the dreams we desire?
These are the questions I’m left with when I live through stories of these sorts and hear so many others. May these beloved men be remembered as the examples they were about working towards dreams and taking actions to create the futures. And may we all find ways to be on the right paths each day and to move closer towards our dreams for whatever amount of time we are given to reach them.