February 7, 2015

The Luckiest Hand I Ever Drew

What I read at Amir's funeral on December 2:

At my wedding, 2009
New York Times writer Frank Bruni dedicated his memoir to his siblings, calling them "the luckiest hand I ever drew." I couldn't agree more, when it comes to the hand I was dealt. Lucky me--I hit the jackpot twice in the sibling department.

Amir and I were kindred spirits and shared a particular closeness neither of us had with anyone else. He was both my patient and my counselor, seeking guidance and providing it. He often sought my wisdom and was always responsive when I asked for his. He was my sounding board for all measure of ideas and plans. I was proud that he looked up to me and Yael and I hope he knew we looked up to him as well.

From a young age, Amir and I shared the same passion for music and often quizzed each other or made bets based on our mutual encyclopedic knowledge of the most trivial of music trivia. I'd say we were about even in our accumulation of useless knowledge, but when Amir lost a bet, no matter how humiliating the defeat, he always accepted it with grace. And he always paid up.

Amir and I shared a singular and sometimes twisted sense of humor, a love of history and wordplay and a deep-seated yet good-natured sarcastic streak. Amir could rouse my sense of humor and make me laugh in a way that no one else could. He knew precisely what I'd find funny because he found it hilarious himself. In many ways, we live​d in our own little bubble of inside jokes, making an art of cynicism and mockery with an underlying kindness.

Through his smart and insightful approach to just about every subject, Amir even managed to occasionally spark my interest in sports. We exchanged frequent texts about hearing random or obscure songs in supermarkets or stumbling upon favorite childhood movies on late-night cable TV. We shared regular emails outlining the finer points of particular books or new movies and we enjoyed long conversations about politics, history and current events.

Amir was one of the most well-read people I've ever known--he devoured books at an impressive rate. I must take partial credit for this, recalling those special early years when he'd asked me to read to him regularly. I cherish the memory of riding in the car with Amir and him asking Yael and I, "What does that sign say?" and "What about that sign?" Teaching Amir to read street signs made long car trips fun and entertaining long before DVD players and iPads.

Climbing with Dad in Chatsworth Park, 1981

It's nearly impossible to imagine a world without Amir in it. It will certainly be less bright for everyone who knew and loved him. I will feel his absence every day for the rest of my life. But though we gather today to say goodbye, Amir will always be with us.