Last week my last remaining aunt, my mom’s only sibling, died -- exactly one week before my mom’s 25th yaretzeit.
One marks the time after a loss first in days, then weeks, months and finally years. Years turn into milestones such as 5, 10, 18, 25. I remind my clients that we never really “get over” a loss, we simply move on in spite of it. We move on, we build and rebuild our lives and hopefully, find ways of putting meaning into our own life, carrying the memory and values of our loved ones.
Perhaps it was coincidental that I found myself humming along with the radio to “Wind beneath my wings,” a song about a hero, and was suddenly reminded of my mother. While fortunate to have been able to tell her how much I loved her, even though she died so young, it was only as I became a mom myself and then again as a “savtie” that I truly began to appreciate just how amazing a woman she was. Given her hearing loss, resulting from meningitis at age 17, and uncorrectable by hearing aids, it is as an adult that I have greater appreciation for the many obstacles she had to overcome in her day to day life.
The dictionary defines “hero” as, “A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.” Think for a moment about the heroes in your life. What are the traits that make them feel heroic to you? How can you help your children to discover the heroes in their lives? Whether a mentor in school or a youth movement, someone in the community, an important figure or even a biblical character, there are so many people we can admire for the wonderful things they do. We just have to take notice.
Here are just some of the values the various heroes in my life possess. Hopefully this list can enable you and your children to discover yours.
My heroes are brave. In the face of difficult challenges, they put up a good front, look at all possibilities and give up gracefully, only when left with no other choice. They are not afraid.
My heroes are compassionate, warm, and caring. They are there for others and seemingly present in the moment, yet not at all intrusive.
My heroes are giving. They put others first, before their own personal needs and comfort.
My heroes are forgiving. Recognizing their own imperfections, they willingly accept mine, while striving to bring out the best in me and help teach me how to grow into a better person. They remind me to embrace challenges and teach me that mistakes provide valuable learning experiences.
My heroes are nurturing and loving. They model patience and understanding and love with all of their heart. They act as gentle guides – knowing the balance between leading me when necessary but letting me take the lead when possible.
My heroes take initiative. They are not afraid to be the first. They are not afraid of failure but look it in the eye, pick themselves up when they fall and with determination start all over again if need be.
My heroes gives freely of themselves. Whether time or energy, they put their whole heart and soul into everything they do.
My heroes make me feel safe and secure. They accept and appreciate me for who I am, and give me confidence and support. They make me feel understood and treat me with respect.
My heroes are very real. Whether in a serious discussion or when it’s time to have fun, they can laugh or cry, but are always genuine and unassuming. They recognize the impact of every word.
My heroes know just how to make people feel loved and special, and make a huge difference in everyone’s lives.
As I review my list, I realize that I am blessed to have so many very different heroes.
At the moment, for example, I am fortunate to be able to spend some time with a wonderful man who is 90 years young. I feel we never have enough time to spend together as I could listen to his amazing stories for hours. I value his opinion and treasure his incredible wisdom. He fears nothing, makes every moment of his life count and is completely unassuming about all the good he has done for others. So modest, so warm, so sweet, and so trustworthy, he makes the time to listen like few do in this fast paced, “I want it now” world. He knows what’s really important in life and I am eternally grateful that he so generously lets me be a small part of his life. My friend Avi is a true hero of mine.
Finally, in the past few months I have become a member of an amazing group of first responders. Our Trauma and Crisis Response Unit of United Hatzalah, one of the newest additions to emergency medical response in Israel, is something I had imagined for a long time. While we Israelis know how to look after our wounded, now we finally have a response for dealing with psychological trauma in real time, during a crisis.
Our trained team responds to such tragic events as a terrorist attack, a crib death, a motor vehicle accident, or a suicide, for example, within minutes. This group of volunteers selflessly give of their time, leaving behind their families or work, to walk into an emotionally difficult situation, never knowing what they will find – all to help lessen the trauma of a catastrophic event. They do it willingly, energetically and with the love and dedication, skill and training that every Israeli should feel proud of. These people are the first team worldwide, as far as I know, to respond immediately, to provide psychological and emotional first aid, in the face of both big and small disasters. These people, each and every one of them, are genuine heroes.
Now it is your turn. Look for the many heroes in your life and let them know how much you appreciate all that they do.