My Blog for this month was supposed to be totally different than what you are about to read, but due to some events of the past few weeks, I thought this would be more appropriate….
If there was no weakness, we would not recognize strength. If there was no sadness, we would not recognize joy. If there was no death, we would not appreciate life. We must know both sides to appreciate each. There are challenges for each of us every day. We may know what they are going to be in advance, or they may come as a surprise to us. How we respond to those challenges makes us the people we are. Many of you are caring for someone that is elderly. Many of you are elderly yourselves. Many of you have recently lost a loved one. In some cases, you knew it was coming. In some cases it hit you like a brick. But, death is a part of life.
Most of you reading this have followed the story of my brother, Walter Goldstein. He was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer just 4 weeks after my father passed from the same disease. In August 2018, we were first told 2 weeks. Then we were told maybe two months. Then we were told maybe there would be a miracle and he would have three to six months. There was certainly a miracle. He lived 16 months. In that time, he had the opportunity to tell everyone in his life that he loved them. He had the opportunity to see how much everyone loved him. He lived his dreams and wishes, and celebrated each and every day that he had. Everything that needed to be said was said. It was a blessing that most of us don’t get to experience.
Perhaps, you saw the news this week that 9 people perished in a helicopter accident in California. This was National news because of who some of the people were. Shockingly, before the families were even notified, the information was leaked in the news and many found out due to the reporting. What a tragic discovery.
Some of the group had attended Church on Sunday morning (including the Bryants) and they were all headed to a youth basketball game later in the day. Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter Gianna (Gigi) were 2 of the fatalities. It has been reported that Kobe and his wife had an agreement not to fly on a helicopter together just in case of an event like this. Vanessa (Bryant) now has three remaining children, including a 17 year old, a 3 year old and an infant, to continue parenting on her own. Also on the flight were Sarah Chester and her 13-year old daughter Payton. Sarah is survived by her husband Chris and two sons in 10th grade. Christina Mauser was an assistant girls’ basketball coach. She left behind a husband and children. John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa were together onboard. John was the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College. Imagine the shock to their remaining daughter Alexis and son JJ at this tragic news. Ara Zobayan was the pilot of the helicopter and he was also killed. The remaining families and friends now have to go forward, many of them wishing they had been privileged to one last conversation, or hug, or smile.
I am sure that when each of these people and their families rose on Sunday morning, no one had prepared for the shock that was to come. Even here at home, part of our Pavilion family found out suddenly on Saturday that their son had been in an accident, and had serious brain trauma. This was the last thing that anyone had expected. Everyone in the family’s life will change dramatically due to this unexpected trauma.
Shaquille O’Neal did a podcast this week mentioning that he had called anyone he had a beef or unfinished business with, to make amends. People throughout the media have been talking about taking advantage of the time we have. Ellen Degeneres encouraged her audience to learn from the sudden tragedy and to talk to their loved ones while they still can. She said, “That’s what I want to talk about: Life is short and it’s fragile. And we don’t know how many birthdays we have,” she continued. “We don’t have to have a birthday to celebrate. Just celebrate life.” She’s right. We don’t know how much time any of us have. Do the logical things. Prepare a will or trust, make records of your passwords for your loved ones, do funeral planning in advance, order the five wishes and talk to your family about your wishes and theirs. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. Do the emotional things. Tell your friends and family how much you love them. If there is an outstanding issue, end it. Celebrate the time of your lives during your lives. Don’t wait for the memorial. Enjoy each day that you have. Man plans, G-d laughs!