Joy for being alive

May 4, 8 pm. The Netherlands. Two minutes of silence. A national commemoration of everyone who died in any war around the world since WW II.

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Children, elderly, veterans, peace activists, blacks, whites: we stand side by side at our local war memorial and are silent. Just two minutes. Complete silence. To pay tribute to those who died, to honor being alive.

I always cry.

There is so much suffering in the world.

I think of a dear friend. He was a child during WWII. His father was a member of an organization that helped Jews find hiding places. The Nazi’s found out, invaded their home, searched every room, and finally found the dad. They took him and mistreated him so badly, that he died within a week. A few weeks later my friend’s house was destroyed during a bombardment, and he, his mom, and his siblings were evacuated to a part of the Netherlands, where the people hardly knew of the horrors they had lived through.

So much suffering.

My friend still wakes up from nightmares. I think he will do so the rest of his life.

So much suffering.

I want to help, to heal, to relieve his pain.

I realize that’s not up to me. It’s up to me to respect his autonomy, support his path, and trust his inner resources. My friend doesn’t need my help, he needs me to be me, and show up with love, care, and presence. My friend is doing pretty well, actually. His experiences helped him to be appreciative of all the love, friendship and belonging he receives. It deepened his gratitude for being alive, because he knows how fragile and precious it is.

There is so much suffering. And so much joy for being alive. Thank you, dear friend, for being my role model of celebrating life in each and every moment.

(I changed the details of my friend’s life to protect his privacy).

3 Replies to “Joy for being alive”

  1. So much pain indeed. We remember the Soldiers who gave their lives, as we should. I rarely ever hear of the people who put there life on the line to save other people. Like the people who hid Anne Frank. What this shows to me is the power of love. The hard right over the easy wrong. To stand, when other are too afraid to stand. To be that beacon of light that leads the way. We support our friends with love, not with pity, not with the ol “what’s in it for me”. Love does conquer all fear. Very beautiful story, and I hope your friend may find all the love and peace in this world.

    1. Thank you, Richard. I felt my heart feel touched as you wrote about those “who chose hard right over easy wrong, to stand, when others are too afraid to stand, to be a beacon of light that leads the way”. I feel proud that my grandfather was one of them. And yes, love conquers all fear. Our Rabbi once said that the opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is fear. More and more I tend to agree with him.

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