Unexpected Support

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A few days ago, I was working on gathering information for a Homeland Security Grant for JNF.  I wrote a long email to a security expert and then sent it to, what I thought, was his email address.  In the meantime, outlook had actually pulled up another person with the same first name and inserted his address.  This happens a lot actually.  I sent a long email about Max recently meant for my parents to a graduate school peer who I haven't seen in over ten years.  He never responded but I noticed the mistake.  Doh!  Anyway, the person I sent the Homeland Security email to accidentally is a well known actor/comedian.  I know him because he MC'd our JNF dinner for two years and I often corresponded with him through email.  He is a very good guy.  One of the very few famous people that actually made a donation (and a significant one) to our cause in addition to hosting the evening for us for nothing.  He wrote me back and simply said, "I think this email was meant for some other Jew...Hope you are doing well".  I can't tell you how many donors or talent people I could have accidentally sent this message to and received an angry tirade back from....or maybe I could, because it has happened.  I am not sure why, but I decided to write him back and tell him what happened to Max.  Perhaps because I feel like it is important for me to keep telling Max's story.  He responded immediately with the nicest email telling me how sorry he was and also saying that he had a very close friend who had experienced the same kind of loss (literally: his friend lost his first child, a nine and a half month old boy).  He then offered to put me in touch with this friend.  I accepted because I find it healing to connect to other parents, as I have mentioned.  He immediately got in touch with his friend and then wrote me back minutes later with all of the contact information.  Sometimes comfort and kindness comes from a very chance happening and someone who isn't particularly close.  It is refreshing.  I can't tell you how many people who I was super close to or have known well for years that I wrote to about Max and never heard any response....or maybe I can, because it has happened.
Yesterday I met for coffee with Doron Almog and his wife Didi.  They contacted me yesterday morning saying that they would be in LA for a few days and asked if I had time to meet with them.  I wrote about them before but I can't remember where in the history of this blog I did that.  He is an Israeli general - a hero at Entebbe, and they have been together for almost 40 years.  The last time I saw them, I think I was pregnant with Max.  They have been fundraising for years to continue building a very unique village in Southern Israel for individuals living with the most severe developmental disabilities.  They started building the village - Aleh Negev (click the link for a short film about the village.  Doron is the first speaker) as a place for their son, Eran, to live.  Then, suddenly and without warning, Eran died.  This was I think about 4 years ago and they continue building the village today.  I have loved them since the minute I met them.  They have suffered great losses in their lives - starting with Doron's brother, who was killed in the Yom Kippur War.  Eran was named for him.  They also lost 5 members of their family in a suicide bombing at a restaurant in Haifa in 2003....including an old friend of mine, Moshe Almog.  Moshe and I used to lifeguard together at the WJCC when I was a teenager.  I also learned yesterday that they actually lost a baby girl 13 days after her birth many years ago.  Life has not been easy for them but they are full of love, hope, and happiness.  They invited me to come and meet with them.  I loved having the chance to learn from them but also felt, after leaving them, that they were so much stronger than I can ever be.  Didi told me that after Doron's brother was killed, his mother decided that she didn't want to be the kind of woman that people crossed to the other side of the street to avoid.  She wanted to be the kind of woman that people wanted to greet.  She is still alive and happy today.  I asked Doron how he connects to all of those people that he has lost.  He told me that he concentrates on connecting to the living.  Easier said than done for me but wise advice.  They had a night of fundraising ahead of them but I had SO many more questions for them...as I do for every parent who has lost a child.  I sometimes worry if people don't regret connecting with me by the time I get started.  My questions and tears and fears never end.  I am sure I will be on the other side of the conversation at some point down the road.
I am not completely sure of the connection between these two stories other than to say that I met my actor/comedian friend because of his support for Aleh Negev and his connection to Doron.  In the last two days, all of these people have brought me some sense of comfort and support, during a period of especially high stress, and it was a nice surprise.  As I left Doron and Didi, they each hugged me and kissed me on the cheeks and told me, "Everything will be alright.  You'll see".  I am waiting......

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