In two days it will be the second day of Shavuot (for those of us outside of Israel), and it will be the one year anniversary of the passing of Dovid Weiss. I'd say Dovid was friend of ours, but really the relationship was different, he was more like family, more like a son. We were the number he could call for whatever help, and even though he would run off, confused by the fact that we gave him kindness and not abuse, as his upbringing taught him love was connected with abuse, not kindness, he would come back when he came to terms with it.
His stories of his childhood were really an eye opener to the kind of abuse a mother can dump on their children. I regret that he never wrote his stories, the collection that he was going to title "Where the Switches Grow". One story he told was that his older sister would create a contest where the siblings would see how long they could hold their breath under the water in the sink as preparation. Preparation for what? In case his mother actually followed through on the threat she would make walks when they would walk over the bridge and say to the children "I should just throw you in the river". Perhaps if they could stay under long enough they could come up after their mother thought they had drowned.
Dovid, in spite of the abuse he suffered and the anger he carried, was an amazing person. He would try to inspire others, he was intensely creative, he was a real character, and his stories always brought response. Dovid was truly a memorable character, bigger than life in many ways. Towards the end of his life he was finally getting, and accepting, the help that he needed, and learning that love can be shown with kindness.
He had seemed to be getting genuinely healthy. But then a week before his death his cancer came back with a vengeance. Erev Shavuot my husband went over to see him, and try to talk him into going to the hospital as the bleeding and the inability to keep food and drink down was dehydrating him. He chose to stay home, and on the second day of Shavuot, the 7th of Sivan, he passed away.
Dovid's funeral was the first one that we had to arrange. It was the first one of a person close to me that I attended. It is hard to hear the dirt hit the coffin of one who you watched struggle and grow and that you hoped would achieve and learn from what you tried to impart in your words and actions. But in the end his life was lived at full intensity. Those that knew him were touched by him, and in the end that is all that we leave behind. Life is left to the living.
So on the anniversary of his death we remember him, and remember his intensity and learn from the amazing spark of life that had.
Dovid Tzvi Aaron ben Shoshana you are remembered.