By Jackson Richman
Last weekend was a poignant reminder through two occurrences.
On Sunday morning, I received news that a beloved member of my hometown sadly lost his battle with cancer the previous night. Caleb (last name omitted for privacy reasons) always had a smile on his face despite the chemotherapy, despite missing schooldays with his loyal friends, despite not playing on the school baseball and basketball team, and despite missing moments that occur at the beginning of adolescence.
Caleb’s friends rallied behind him in every way imaginable. With visits, birthday surprises, organizing group prayers at the Western Wall and elsewhere, running marathons to raise awareness, and even surprising him with a visit by a star Chicago Blackhawks player— there was no denying that Caleb was not alone in his fight.
Later that day, I went to New Jersey to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. She was a hidden child during the Holocaust. Despite the misery, she learned about what it meant to be loved. What it meant to be with people who cared despite the societal evil all around. After the war, she immigrated to America, where she worked hard and became a teacher and raised three children with a father who also survived the war.
His name was Jack Richman. Upon arriving at Dachau, he was separated from his father. Jack trusted a non-Jewish prisoner to take a bit of his food to his father. Upon learning that his father perished and that this prisoner never told him and took his food for himself, instead of getting angry, he remained calm.
What Caleb, my grandma, and Jack exemplified is that life is too short and we should cherish every moment.
Let us take a step back.
Life is too short. Too short for outrages. Too short for screaming. Too short for vilifying. Too short for bullying (Just ask Keaton Jones). Too short for arrogance.
But life is not short enough that we can be kind to one another. Life is not short enough in that we should judge people personally not by their background, rather by their character.
Look around you. The person near you may be a colleague, a roommate, your mom, your dad, your brother, your sister, your friend, a teacher, the people waiting with you at the airport, a homeless person, or some other stranger.
Life should teach us not to sweat the small stuff and always be kind because we may not know what someone, whether dear or stranger to us, is going through.
Moreover, we should be grateful.
May Caleb’s and my grandfather’s memory be for a blessing.
And happy birthday, Grandma Richman.