Holiday of Redemption

by Yarden Frankl

April 1st, 2015

The unthinkable can and does happen.

The unthinkable. The unimaginable.

The pain in your wife’s stomach that leads to the visit to the emergency room that leads to the call from the doctor saying one of the most feared words you can ever hear.

Cancer.

The next call that says the tests are done. There is no cure.

Your wife will die.

You will be left alone.

The unthinkable. The quickness in which a life you loved living turns dark. The long fall over the edge.

The dark. The cold. The emptiness.

And then.

The unthinkable happens again. The unimaginable.

Just when you accepted that your life had ended too. A light.

A spark.

A new smile. A new partner. A guide who has made her way through the dark before is there to show you the way out.

The sun rises.

You discover that falling in love doesn’t stop the grieving. But the grieving doesn’t stop you from falling in love.

The sky is blue again.

———————

We human beings are limited. So limited that we are not even aware of our own limitations. We cannot comprehend the worst.

But we also can’t comprehend the best.

The Passover story tells of a people who lived charmed lives in one of the most powerful nations on Earth.

And then.

The unthinkable.

Suddenly they found themselves tossed from their lofty position into abject slavery. The lights went out and they struggled on in the dark.

Many gave up hope and accepted that the sun would never rise again.

But then.

The unthinkable happened again.

Liberation. Redemption. A way out of the darkness.

To the Promised Land.

As Passover approaches I remember. I remember Stella’s smile and her love. I remember the horrible pain of losing her. I remember the darkness that closed in on me. And I remember meeting Gilly and how she pulled me out and gave me life again.

Y & GThe Passover story teaches that we must understand that the lives we have today will not necessarily be the lives we have tomorrow. But that the worst thing we could do is give up hope.

Even after all hope is lost.

Wishing all who read this a joyful and meaningful Holiday of Redemption, surrounded by love.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

 

Look at the Blue!

by Yarden Frankl

January 29th, 2015

sky2The sky is very blue today.

Sure it’s not such a rare event. Many times it’s just there and you walk around under it without even noticing.

But sometimes it’s just amazing.

There are many amazing things all around us. Things that make us smile and laugh and cry and raise our arms in the air like a triumphant runner crossing the finish line. There are movies and videos that make us laugh out loud and beautiful songs that we can’t help but listen to over and over and over.

But you know something?

The satisfaction we get from experiencing these things is not complete unless we can grab someone we love and say “Look at that!!!”

Have you ever seen a spectacular sunset by yourself? It’s just not the same.

After 22 years of marriage, I believe that while it is important to share responsibilities and tasks and worries and resources, the most important thing to be able to share in a marriage is amazement.

I love many things about Gilly. But at the top is that we both are always eager to share so much that is wonderful. Yeah, sometimes you have to call your spouse and ask about errands or dinner or who will pick up the car at the garage.

But what it’s really all about is sometimes just looking up and making a call to say “Hey, look up! Look at the Blue!!!”

In just a few hours, Gilly and I will be married. When we first used to talk, we spoke about how utterly horrible and unfair and cruel life could be. Being able to share that somehow made things a little better.

But now we speak about how beautiful and uplifting and amazing life can also be.

And I can’t wait.

Go ahead. Right now, look up. Look at that amazing sky and think about all the wonderful things that will be happening under it.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

A Year Has Passed

by Yarden Frankl

November 27th, 2014

Thirteen months ago, at the funeral, I said that even at the most painful moment, I felt I was the luckiest man on the planet for being Stella’s husband for so many years.

Today, after everything that has happened, I do not waver in that belief. If I had a time machine and could go back and do the last thirty years over, knowing how it would end, I wouldn’t hesitate.

Rivka Miriam 2I also said that when I miss Stella, all I have to do is look at my children and realize that she is alive in them. And this is also true.

We prayed for a miracle when Stella was sick. A skeptic might point out that G-d did not answer our prayers. But I don’t believe that for a second. We did have miracles as G-d kept extending Stella’s time, allowing her to share more and more days with those she loved. It was especially at this time of year — Kislev on the Jewish calender, Thanksgiving on the English one, that we felt the biggest miracles and the greatest thanks.

When it was her time, she told me. And she accepted that although her life was short, it was a full one, and she left with no regrets. Her “bucket list” had nothing to do with climbing mountains or sky diving. Her list was to simply spend time with those she loved and touch as many lives as possible with kindness and compassion.

Yedidya BikeIn less than a week it will be the first Yartzheit, the day on the Jewish calendar which we will set aside as a day to reflect on Stella’s life. It is usually the 12 month anniversary, but because of the lunar cycle of the Jewish month system and the addition of an extra month, it will really be thirteen months. But that doesn’t matter. This is the day we choose to remember.

Of course that’s not really true. Not only do I think of Stella, feel her presence, and talk to Stella every day, but many others have told me that they think of her regularly also. So it is not as if we have forgotten and choose one day to try and remember. No, that’s not what (in my mind) the day will be about.

So what will I be thinking of next week?

First is how proud I am and Stella would be/is of how well the kids have done. Just 13 months after the terrible trauma of losing their mother, my kids are doing far better than just surviving. In many ways they are thriving.

Rivka YedidyaMax has embraced the “mechina” (Army preparatory program) with a mixture of exuberance, enthusiasm, exhilaration, and trepidation. It reminds me of how I feel during a marathon. But this program is for ten months, not three hours. Miriam continues to excel at her school work and now is exploring her post-high school options with, what seems to me, more interest and excitement than begrudging acceptance that high school will end for her. Rivka is taking the Golan by storm and has really found a school in which she can be herself and pursue her talents. And then there is my buddy Yedidya, often coming up with wise statements far beyond his eleven years.

Yes, they are all still works in progress. All of us are.  We all have our scars and, as a friend told me, we all will always suffer a form of post-traumatic stress. But every day we learn new ways to cope with those scars and try to remember the good and soften the memories of the terrible.

IMG_4424So the Yartzheit is partly a day to look back on our year and understand our own achievements. Because Stella would not want a whole day of sad people mourning her.

But the day really should be about her. So what will we do?

I hope, and I know that she would support this, it will be a day where we look back and remember the life — not the death — of this amazing person. I hope that we can get together and share stories of her amazing outlook on life. And what I really hope — is that everyone can learn something from her approach to life. Not as a way of memorializing her, but as a way of making our own lives better and infusing them with more meaning.

So on Tuesday, December 2, in the new shul in the new neighborhood, (after the 8:00 PM Arvit,) I will be giving a shiur (talk.) My title is “Say little, do much, and greet everyone with a cheerful face: Stella’s approach to life.” I hope you can all join us.

photo (1)On Wednesday morning, at 9:00 we will visit her grave to say tehillim. Please come if you are around.

Then from 3:00, please feel free to drop by our house, share a story about Stella and a bite to eat. We’ll all be here.

Also, I am very pleased to announce that we will dedicate the new park in Stella’s memory. It’s right across the street from the house. Thank you to all who donated for this tribute. The sign is the last touch, and if it ever stops raining, it will be put up and I will put some pictures on Facebook.

Stella’s parents will not be able to make it but they want to express their continuing gratitude to everyone who continues to help the Frankl family and they will be providing some yummy refreshments as a token of their appreciation.

Stella 1/14And I also want everyone to know how much your love and support have meant to us over the last few years. Stella told me before she died that her biggest concern was not dying, but how we would manage without her. Well, the food may not be as tasty nor the house so clean, but that’s all right. We are running strong in large part thanks to the support of family and friends.

I know that Stella is very happy and relieved at where we are today.

And where we will go tomorrow.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

 

 

 

 

 

Rebuilding My Home

by Yarden Frankl

October 1st, 2014

rebuildI’m rebuilding my home.

To be more accurate, I am doing renovations. I am not changing the basic structure of the home. The foundation was always very strong.

But our home was greatly damaged by a terrible storm. And I now have a choice.

I could do nothing and accept the way it is. It’s certainly liveable. I could continue with things the way they have been for the past 10 months.

Rebuilding is not always pleasant. There is dust and debris and noise. Decisions have to be made constantly. Every day there are strangers in your house. At times you feel that the rebuilding process will never end.

So maybe it would be easier if I didn’t make any changes.

But I can see what my home eventually will look like. It will be beautiful inside and out. We will be able to open our doors to guests from near and far and our home will once again be a warm and inviting place.

I know what to do because together with another builder, we have designed the once unimaginable home of our dreams.

Not only do I love what we can see, I know that Stella would love it too.

photo (3)Just as there were many people who were so helpful to me and my family during the storm, many friends continue to hand both of us the hammer, and the nails, and the encouragement we need to get the job done.

I know there are others who stand back. I know deep down they are wondering if I am not being hasty in my efforts. (“Should he be rebuilding so soon? Is he doing it right? Is he putting the roof on straight?”)

Many people simply do not know how to deal with those who have lost a loved one. They wonder if they are allowed to mention Stella. They worry that they might make a joke that could be insensitive. They don’t know whether to congratulate me and my efforts to rebuild…. or pity me for them.

Just as this affects me, it also affects the kids. In schools, when a child’s parent is sick, the class can pray for that person to get better. But what happens if that person dies? Should the class just stop praying and treat the child as if nothing happened? The reality for many, both children and adults, is that they feel uncomfortable speaking to the bereaved about their loss. And so they end up avoiding them.

So let me be as clear as I can be. Yes, I am rebuilding my home. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love the old one.

I LOVE SPEAKING ABOUT STELLA AND HAVING PEOPLE TALK ABOUT STELLA. You never have to pretend she didn’t exist because a reference might hurt my feelings. It’s o.k.

Yet Stella would never allow me to become stuck living and raising children in a damaged home. So I am doing the best that I can planning a new future in a rebuilt home.

And I appreciate from the bottom of my heart all who hand us those nails.

May we all merit a good year full of health and happiness as we all engage in our own personal renovations.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel

 

Alive

by Yarden Frankl

September 19th, 2014

I’m alive.

It may seem obvious. As obvious as the fact that anyone reading this shares my condition.

But it’s not.

To be alive is to be more than simply a creature that eats, sleeps, and breathes. To be alive is to embrace life, knowing that our continued existence is by no means guaranteed. Not for a single day or hour.

To be alive is to not be afraid to take that extra step. To love, sing, run and take advantage of all of life’s possibilities.

Last night/this morning I joined friends and hundreds or runners from all over Israel as we ran through the night in the Judean hills. To me and many of my friends, it was not about competing. It was about running up mountains and down valleys, through forests and along paths. Running in the heat of the afternoon and the cold of the middle of the night. Running for hours, together as we shared stories of what was going on in our lives.

You see other runners who you have never met and give each other that special nod of the head that acknowledges common insanity. You put together prayer groups out in the fields while you take a pause in between runs.

It’s not an easy thing at all, but that’s precisely what makes it special. Ironically, the more pain that we experience, the more that we appreciate everything else in life.

I remembered one of trails we ran along as the spot where last year I fell and wanted the ground to swallow me up. As hard as the run was back then, it was much better than the reality I faced on a constant basis. The days leading up to Rosh Hashana were a blur, as were the holidays. Chag Sameach? (Happy Holidays?) No, we weren’t even close.

But now things are different. As I continue to run through life, I choose to go where there is a sense of adventure. Where I can feel my heart beat and look around each corner with wonderment and awe.

And as I continue running and living, I do so with complete faith that I have someone in heaven looking down on me and cheering me on.

And someone here on earth too.

Shana Tova. May everyone have a happy year, full of health, good news, and as many adventures as possible.

photo (1)

-Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel