For five years, all of the celebrations in my life have been played against the backdrop of tragedy. That doesn’t mean that all of the celebrations have been bad. It just means that every celebration is somehow dampened by the loss of Simon.
Today, was an exception. Today, I saw the other side of life. I left my world and visited another world. I got to attend Melissa Fair’s bat mitzvah. She looked amazing. She sang and chanted beautifully. She spoke with confidence and compassion. She rose above the occasion.
Melissa attended a Simon’s Day heart screening two years ago. The screening revealed a congenital heart defect that required open heart surgery. As she put it today, “now, I’m better than ever.”
Melissa asked Phyllis and I to participate in her bat mitzvah celebration. We had a part in the service. We lit a candle at the reception. We sat at a table with Lori and Ken (parents) and their siblings. I realized very quickly that we were the only non-family member in the service and at the table. Then, I realized that we were their family too.
We know that the activities of Simon’s Fund affect other people’s lives. That’s our objective. But, we don’t really know to what extent, and we don’t pause for too long to find out. There’s more to do.
Today was a very long pause. Today, I heard about how frightening and uncertain those days of surgery were for the family. Today, I learned about how much of an effect the surgery had on Melissa’s life and character. Today, I finally realized how much of an impact that Simon had on another life, and how appreciated he is by her family and friends.
I cried alot today. Typically, this amount of crying is reserved for anniversaries, birthdays, or missed milestones. Today was different. Today, I cried for the joy that Simon left behind, not for the sorrow of him leaving. I cried over the happiness of what I was seeing, not over the despair of what I was missing. I cried over the pride of knowing that Simon’s life touched someone else’s life, not over the agony of him losing his own life.
As Melissa called us up to light a candle today, she said in her poem that “we saved her life.” Melissa, thank you, but the truth is, today your family changed mine.