Posted by: Leah | October 2, 2011

Counting Blessings

As we are approaching Yom Kippur and Yitzkor, I am becoming painfully aware of all losses I experienced this past year.

Leah, my wonderful friend from Jerusalem died. She was my ultimate inspiration in Judaism, and she is profoundly missed.

Chaya, Jan’s wife died.

My little tiny girl, Dinah, a quiet cat who started her day purring and finished her day still purring.







Frank Samardak, my friend from Toastmasters died. He was a committed wonderful person, looking tough and being too honest sometimes, but ultimately caring and warm.

Many people I cared for at the hospice during my volunteer shifts. Their families and they were a great source of inspiration and lessons. They made my life more meaningful.

My dear friend Anatoly and his mother-in-law. Below is the post I wrote about him in my previous blog.  I feel I would like to move it here and reflect again on him and his life.

“Let us face it – we all dread this kind of phone calls – when a caller asks you how you are and then continues – I have news for you. Bad news.
I got mine in December last year. My mom called me and said: Anatoly died in the fire today.
How do you say good-bye to somebody you pretty much knew all life, and you are thousand miles away?
You start remembering little precious moments: going for a walk in the woods, a sunny river, games, and hopes, smiles and tears, badminton and phone calls. He was the only one who was allowed (ever!) to call me – my little one (маленькая моя in Russian). I still start tearing when I hear this phrase.
Anatoly was my dad’s best friend, the kind of the friend you call at 2 am, and he comes right in 30 minutes to help. He had the biggest heart and the brightest smile in the world. He rarely did not smile.
I love complex lives, and he sure had one. He was married three times, had one son with his first wife, and then my dad introduced him to one fine lady – they quickly got married – love? Convenience marriage? We would never find out. They had a son; they worked; they went to a cottage in summer.
Was he happy? Well, define happiness. Happiness as marital bliss, no money problems, a talented kid? Probably not. But as we live in the world of fragmentation, he was the one who could put things together – he could mend, glue, and keep thing firm. He spent hours caring for his bed-bound mother-in-law, and when a bulb expoded in her room, and the fire started he went right in and then tried to save pets – a dog and a cat.
Neither made it out.
So, how do you say good-bye to somebody you expected to always be there even thousands miles away, even when you hadn’t spoken for years?
You know what? You don’t. You keep on living your life remembering all lessons you learned together, making mistakes, balancing on the edge but never falling, because this is what makes any friendship great. You are never too far or too close.
We all expect to hear  the list of achievements and prizes at the end of somebody’s life as though they make your life greater. Anatoly did not have those, but what he did have is the greatest gift of giving and being, that is why he stayed behind in that apartment, in the fire.
He is surely deeply missed every single day.

The only picture where he was not smiling is this one. My mom thinks that he had known what was about to happen, as it was taken the summer before the fire, but I have a different explanation for that: even a person with the brightest smile can have a lousy day.”







This past year was not easy. Too many losses. I feel blessed having known these people, and at the same time extremely sad not to have them in my life anymore. I pray for a better healthier and happier year for us all. We all need more weddings than funerals.


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