July 22, 2015

Your Guess Is as Good as Mine

The following was written by Amir's boss and read aloud during a memorial for Amir held by his coworkers and clients a few days after his death:

"I realized over the last several days that Amir touched everyone's lives who entered the tennis center over the last 6 years. Every kid, adult, member and guest he had helped in this club in some way with amazing poise, courtesy and honesty. That is why I remember I hired Amir that I noticed he had those qualities.

He loved his Lakers and loved baseball and all you had to do is ask him about either and he would start talking. You may have thought he was a quiet, shy kind of guy but just get him going on most subjects actually and it got his mind and voice going.

I learned new things about Amir from members and friends over the last several days that he had shared with different people that I never knew about. Such as his love for doing crosswords with ease (often teasing others who did and those that attempted them, he'd often say the daily crossword was easy and he had already finished it). I also never knew about his love to write literature and his amazing story about his grandmother, who survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps to eventually get his family to America. If you haven't read this, please do so, it is an unforgettable story.

Amir told me how he felt that SAC [Sunset Athletic Club] had saved his life over the last several years because he was finally able to get insurance to help him with the cost of his medications and treatment. Amir treated SAC and its members as it was his life here. I want to say thanks to all the friends/members that helped him along the way survive through some tough times.

I am going to read you something I found that Amir had written a couple of years ago that I think gives us some insight to how Amir's mind worked and what a great person he was...
Endless false starts, hiccups and blown promises later, here we are again. Unsolicited musings from my heart and brain to yours. A lifetime of transformative joys, sorrows, indifference, low-brow humor, cruel irony and bitter sarcasm. From literature to sports, philosophy to pet-rearing, I take pride in spanning a wide swath of disciplines. I intend to take you on a journey that you'll most likely soon forget. I'm your everyman neighbor, if your everyman neighbor was a reclusive, technologically challenged Bar Mitzvah boy with a displaced chip on his shoulder for absolutely no apparent reason. Only one caveat here, folks: Your Guess is as Good as Mine. At turns immodest and self-loathing, decent and crude, radiant and dull. I operate on the premise that we're all individually carving out our place in this world. At the end of the day, the differing paths are all born of the same motivation--the need to sift through the bullshit and chaos and hone in on something authentic and lasting. Corny? Probably. Beautiful? Certainly.
Amir, we won't forget your journey."

July 12, 2015

If I Could Turn Back Time...

Now you have an earworm. You're welcome!

I haven't written here in weeks but that doesn't mean I haven't written. I just have trouble formulating my ramblings into anything coherent. My thoughts are so garbled these days--I'm struggling with focusing in every sense of the word. Part of that is my health issues (certainly not going into that here) but it's also due to grief. While my parents and sister and I are grieving in different ways, with some obvious similarities, we all share this lack of focus. My mind wanders constantly and thoughts of Amir pull me out of whatever I was thinking or doing, leaving me confused and scattered. No one tells you grief makes your mind stop working properly.

In the days immediately after Amir died, I was desperate to find some kind of support group for my particular type of grief. There are plenty of support groups for parents grieving a child or for spouses who are widowed or for children who have lost a parent*. But I found limited resources for adult sibling loss. One group I found here in NYC didn't have enough participants to continue after the first meeting.

On Facebook, I found Grief Beyond Belief, an online group that has helped both my mom and I immensely. It is here that I can openly share with others and derive comfort and support from people who know the shitstorm grief can dump onto your life and also understand and relate to the ups and downs of grieving that I never would have understood had I not lived it these past 7+ months. I've never met any of them but, as a group, they have guided me through this new reality and I'm very grateful for that.

When I was in junior high, I remember wishing I could rewind time and go back to my younger years, a feeling that hit me even more strongly in high school. Can you imagine being 16 or 17 and wanting to go back to a "simpler time"? Well, that's how I felt. I wrote about it in my journal, how I longed to go back to the days before SATs and AP exams and anxiety over boys and money and my body and college and whether I was smart or savvy enough to succeed in the world.

An oft-repeated adage says "time heals all wounds." And yes, the immediate shock and grief of a loved one's death fades as time goes by. But in some ways, my grief has intensified. Grief changes as weeks and months go by and you get further and further from the time when your loved one was alive. The formerly routine act of turning the calendar page to a new month has become a painful reminder that I'm entering yet another new month without my beloved brother and friend. I ache to be able to rewind time, to go back and be with him again, to have one more deep conversation, one more hug, one more laugh.

The passing of time has factored into my grief in a way I never expected. Members of the GBB group share often about their longing to rewind time. Not to save their loved one or alter history, but to just recall how they felt before their hearts were weighed down by grief and longing. I think of November 2014 and I ache--a deep, painful ache--to go back. If only to tell Amir what an incredible person he is and how dearly we all love him. I know he knew it, but I wish I could tell him one last time.

*In fact, I recently heard a wonderful podcast about a support group for children who have lost a parent. I'm an ass for not remembering which podcast but I can narrow it down to two or three. The name of the support group has completely escaped me. This is why I have to write everything down now. Even the important stuff gets lost amid the chaos in my mind.