May 30, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Saying Goodbye—Shalom—L’Hitraot—A Bientot

This morning as I wished one of my grandsons tzetzchem l’shalom as he returned to finish out his year of learning in Israel, I thought about the number of times we say goodbye to people throughout the day. Most are in passing without much thought going into the phrase. It reminded me of the many times we would drive away from my parents’ home in Jericho with our five kids hatched down for the long road back to Montreal, and every time, for a very short moment, I would wonder if and when I would see them next.

I do not think many of us have minds that work that way. Perhaps it is my age or my involvement in the world that makes me realize more and more that one never knows if they will really see the other again. How many times recently have I heard of young people 20 – 40 who suddenly either face a tragic illness or a fatal accident? Just last week I met a woman whose husband fell on the ice. It would normally sound like a pretty innocuous occurrence but because he hit his head, in a short period of time he passed away. We have all read of the young chatan and kallah excitedly planning their wedding when a drunk driver hit them on Rockaway Turnpike and they were both instantly killed. You can be certain their parents never dreamed of saying goodbye to them when they left their respective houses that day.

What more can be said of the thousands of chayalim who are off to Northern Israel or Gaza, calling and wishing their families a Shabbat shalom on the phone (if they are lucky enough to have access to one) and just a few short hours later a powerful knock on the door informs their families of their demise?

My point is to never say goodbye to someone without realizing how fortunate you are to have them in your life. It’s hard to do while all of us spend most of our days rushing around. Getting children off to school, a stressful act especially if they are youngsters; watching spouses go off to work; speaking to friends, acquaintances and family members on the telephone all fall into this category. I think about it as I hang up the phone the many times I speak with my children—always ending with the same “speak to you tomorrow.”

What I have learned from this way of thinking is that I prefer to say nice things and compliment people each day because that is the way I would prefer to be remembered. If I really do not like an outfit someone is wearing, I will not tell them how gorgeous it is. However, if they ask me and I see how important it is to them to be complimented I will unenthusiastically tell them how lovely it is (unless it is amazingly distasteful).

I make an effort each day to be extra friendly with sales people. How many of you know that Mary is the manager of Patis, greet Rudy and Kenneth each day at Dunkin Donuts, tell the chef at Rock n Roll how good his sushi is or enthusiastically thank the man putting gas into your car? After freezing for years filling up my tank I find having service at gas stations to be one of the best perks of living in New Jersey. I know, they are thinking of abandoning it.

When was the last time you offered your mailman a cold drink or a hot coffee (if you are home)? When it is hot in the summer I will leave a frozen bottle of water in my mailbox.

I guess what this is all about is that I realized after my Mordechai passed that I had not one regret about things which I did not tell him. However, I did realize that disturbing occurrences which may have bothered me at any point in my life no longer take up space in my mind. I have no room for anger or misunderstanding. Now that I have no one to confide in, I have chosen to lean in the direction of only allowing myself to find the good in everyone as best as I can. I want to aim at never regretting something I may have said to offend someone and at the same time try as much as possible to only see the good in people. Being thankful to everyone who plays a role in our lives is the way to go.

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