Today, April 20, 2016 would have been your 30th birthday. You would have been celebrating your entry in your thirties with a nice big jamboree. You would have picked a very nice restaurant. You would have been surrounded by friends. You would be all smiles, that large infectious smile of yours. And you would have made some awkward comments about your birthday being the perfect day to be a stoner, even though you're not a toker. Today would have been a very happy day.
I remember the time I visited you up in Columbia Presbyterian Psych Ward up in White Plains. Your first words to me were "is this your first time in a looney bin?" Your life was on the rocks. Your relationship with your parents sucked. Your dad had you committed. You had no idea where you would go after you were discharged. But during the time I visited you, you were all smiles. You were very hospitable. I made you smile, you returned the favor.
But my fondest memory of you will always be the last time I saw you.
It was the day of my Savta's funeral. I wish you could have met Savta. You would have loved her. I know, she would have made things awkward. She would have badgered me about why I am bringing such a pretty girl to her apartment but we don't get married. She might even have hunted down your parents and called them trying to make a shidduch. That would have been very awkward. I wouldn't mind. But you might. And so would my parents.
Savta's funeral was in Borough Park at Shomrei Emunim, the same place yours would be two months later. Savta was very special to me. Thanks to her, I'm a teacher. She had a funny way of showing it, but she loved me. I loved her too. I loved her enough to go into Borough Park on a regular basis to visit. I loved her enough to spend a few days of Pesach with her. I hate Pesach. I hate being around frum people for long periods. But I love Savta enough to spend that time with her.
After the funeral ended, I was distraught. I was beyond shaken. I took a long walk to the 55th St train station. It was about a mile. I didn't care. I needed to clear my head. Long walks are therapeutic.
I got on the D train. I got on the phone while I was sti overground to tell my after-school students I wouldn't be coming. At around the Ft Hamilton stop you got on the train. I heard you calling my name. I looked up, and there you were with a big smile on your face. I grimaced back, but indicated that I would be with you in a minute.
Boy was I glad to see you. I was still shaken. If anyone could cheer me up, it was you.
I got off the phone at around 36th St. You were already seated next to me. Your life was falling apart. But you still were happy to see me.
I told you that Savta died. You say there and listened to me as I ranted and raged about how much I miss her. You were a good listener. Every so often, you chimed in with an awkward comment or two. But today, I was so glad to hear them. Someone else might have been offended. I wasn't. You were like an angel, sent by a god I no longer believe in, sent to console me. And you did.
You were headed to 34th St for something work related. I wish I took the time to discuss your situation. I didn't. I should have been a better friend to you. Hindsight is 20/20.
When you got off the train, I hugged you goodbye. I couldn't have known it would be the last time we ever hugged. It would be the last time I ever saw you.
Thank you Faigy. As I write this I am tearing up on a city bus. You were like an angel. Like your name, you flew into my life, and you were no more.
May your memory continue to bring smiles and inspire all who knew you.