Saturday, January 11, 2003

Today marks the completion of first 30 day period of mourning, or Shloshim. Yesterday, Henry's school held a ceremony to mark this milestone and celebrate Henry's life.

Henry's classmates read a list of things they learned from Henry:

Henry taught us how to be best friends.
Henry taught us about nature.
We learned to LOVE super heroes.
We learned to love brothers and sisters.
We learned not to complain.
He taught us how to always be sweet.
Henry taught us all about whales during our ocean life study.
We learned how to be kind to each other.
Henry taught us many short vowel words.
We learned to smile a lot!
We learned to take a good nap when we need one (my favorite).

Henry's best friend, Ari, prepared these words:

Henry was my special friend
who I played with many times.
He taught me many things in life
like how to smile and to be brave.
Henry was my best friend who I
knew for five years.
When Henry passed away I was
very sad but I still remember Henry
and never will forget what a cool
person he was.

A few songs were sung, and my favorite was

Mi Ha'ish
(psalm 134)

Me ha-ish hefafetz chayim, Ohev yamim lirot tov

Who is the one who desires life, loving their days, doing good?

N’tzor l’shoncha marah, guard your tongue from evil

Us’ftecha d’daber mirma, and your lips from speaking falsehood.

Sur marah, v’aseh tov, Depart from evil and do good;

Bakesh shalom v’rodfayhu, Seek peace and pursue it.

When we sing this on the High Holidays I love the melody but always seem to focus on the don't gossip or tell untruths part. It was only yesterday that the beautiful melody and the "Who is the one who desires life, loving their days, doing good?" and " good, Seek Peace and pursue it" parts came together for me in the image of Henry.

Many of the rememberances centered on Henry's smile.

and how nice and outgoing he was

For the past few weeks I have left this alone and been writing letters to Henry, sometimes 3 or 4 a day. I went back through them the other day and I think it is okay to copy a few short excerpts from them here. I chopped things up a bit so it might not really flow too well. Most of the letters are spent telling Henry how much I love him and miss him. It is unbelievable how many different ways I can write that.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
Dear Henry:

Another person at the conference Mommy went to (Laurie was a participant this past week in a conference sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Genetics and Public Policy Center and was on a panel with Leon Kass, the Chairman of the President's Commission on Bioethics) was a rabbi. His name is Rabbi Gerald Wolpe. He told me that he said a mishaberach for you when you were sick. He heard about you when we did the bone marrow donor drives a few years ago. His son is a rabbi too. His name is Rabbi David Wolpe and he writes books. As it happens, Mom bought me one of his books called "Making Loss Matter." It is really interesting and helpful. Here is something he wrote.

The times when we feel utterly defeated are the moments when we have the chance to see farther, to reach down deeper into ourselves, to acquire wisdom. It is the time to begin dreaming wise dreams.

In another part of the book he writes,

Superheroes of children's comic books are projections of the child's imagining the power to change the world.

Monday, January 06, 2003
Dear Henry:

Sorry I haven't written but I have been helping Mom with something she was writing on the computer. She wrote a presentation to make to a bunch of really important people today. She talked about what we did to try to have another baby that had healthy blood to give to you. We want to make sure other families get a chance to do what we did and hopefully it will work for them. It was nice and hard to see our friend Sharon who was here for the same meeting. Sharon came here from Tel Aviv. You probably remember when we saw Sharon in New York with her husband Yavin and their little boy Amitai. He had the same problem with his blood that you had. Sharon -- you say "Shah-rown" the way you say the Hebrew words you learned in school -- had a baby with the help of Mark and Dr. Rosenwaks and her name is Alma. Doctors in Israel gave Amitai some of Alma's blood the same way you got your new blood in Minnesota from Beverly, your wonderful donor. It looks like Amitai is going to be okay and not have any of the problems you had. When Sharon spoke today to the doctors, she said that Henry Strongin Goldberg saved Amitai's life. You did. That is the best thing that any person can do. Saving someone's life and loving people are the greatest things we can ever do and you did both. I am proud of you.

We will go visit Sharon and her family in Israel some time. I am sorry that you never saw Jerusalem. It is so beautiful. Yavin and Sharon planted a small grove of trees on a hill overlooking Jerusalem in your honor.

I want to show you an email that Mom and I got from one of the teachers who helped in Aunt Tracey's class.

Dear Laurie and Allen.

Dec.31, 2002

My name is Elizabeth Aloni, teacher at Gan Ha Yeled at Adas Israel (the
Chicks class). Last year, in a shabbat class celebration Henry came
over as a special guest for Sam Strongin's. That was a very special day for all
of us, the little ones were observing all Henry's motions and inputs.
Anyway G-d bless his memory. What I want to tell you is that on that day, when
we passed the Tzedakah box to collect pennies for charity, Henry said
"this is very important, we should give this money to the poor children in
Africa or Afganistan...."

That was very sweet of you. You always thought of others (starting with me, Mom, Jack and Joe) and that was really nice and really grown up of you.

Saturday, January 04, 2003
Dear Henry:

Sometimes when I read or type things said by someone else I can hear the other person's voice. So I am going to give it a try now with us. I pray it works.

Goodnight Henry. I love you all the way to Uranus and back.

Very funny. Goodnight Dad. I love your butt, too.

You know, that worked.

I love you Big Man. You are rock solid.


Saturday, January 04, 2003
Dear Henry:

We saw your teachers when we went to celebrate Jack's birthday at school. Mrs. Berliant and Mrs. Newman and G'veret Epstein miss you so much. I think you were their favorite student. Most parents think this about their kids, that they're the most special and everything, but I think it is really the truth with you. I think you were the favorite patient, favorite student, favorite kid, favorite friend, favorite customer, favorite shopper, favorite nephew, grandkid, everything. Believe it, Henry, believe it.

I drove down Canal Road yesterday and now whenever I drive on it -- which is a lot -- I can't help but think about the time this summer when you almost died. I drove 90 miles an hour down that road when Mom called me and told me that you were either dead or dying. I couldn't believe it. I needed to make sure that I got to the hospital in time to say goodbye to you. You recovered so fast that I knew you were indestructible and would live forever. Remember how I told you that you were now "Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived." Just like Harry, your mother's love saved you from death. How could anything have been more powerful than that love.

I just saw your bike is in the garage. I am crying now thinking about how lonely it is without you atop. Papa Teddy bought one for you and one for Jack. You were doing so great. This is the spring when you'd finally take off the training wheels. This is the summer when you'd finally swim well all by yourself. You just never had the time to master all of basics of boyhood. We were so close.

You know how lonely I am without you. I keep listening to this song called "Private Universe." I think you and I lived in one together. I love you. Our private universe is a lonely place without you.

Love, Love, Love, Love, Love, Love


Saturday, December 28, 2002
Dear Henry:

It is Jack's birthday today. We all went to the zoo. It made me remember when you and I went to the aquarium at the Mall of America. Remember the baby turtles. They were really cute. You loved cute things, and you were such a cute thing. Unfortunately the Kirby DVD and game came the day you died. Jack is playing with it now and really enjoys it. Yesterday mom took Jack skiing for his birthday. He went with Nick and Jeffrey and Shelley. They all had fun. It was the kind of day that normally I would have spent with you at home cuddling on the couch, watching movies, being lazy, while Jack and mom were out being active and getting cold. Everything I do or don't do reminds me of you. This is a good thing. I can't wait to think about you today.

The guy at Palisades Pizzeria asked about you today. He was very sad when I told him what happened. Everyone loved you so much. I didn't even know the guy knew you or your name. You made a great impression with everyone who ever met you.

I think about you all day and night and wish I could hold you, kiss you, watch you laugh and hear your voice. I don't want any more time to pass since the days we last spent together. I am afraid of losing the clarity of my memories of you.

I have so much to tell you. Tomorrow is Darrell Green's last football game. He is retiring from playing football with the Redskins the same way that Cal Ripken stopped playing baseball with the Orioles. Michael Jordan is still playing basketball with the Wizards but he has said that he will not play anymore after this season. You got to see a lot of great professional athletes play. I remember getting you out of bed to watch Mark McGuire break Roger Maris' homerun record. And who could forget the time you spent with Cal in the dugout talking Pokemon or when you took batting practice behind A-Rod on the Metrodome field. I am sorry we didn't get to go to a Wizards game or a Redskins game.

The other day Mom and I went and bought some licorice in Georgetown. You might remember that you and I used to do that often for mom before going to the clinic. We stopped into one store and we ran into your camp counselor. She was very sad, and said she loved you a lot. Who didn't. Then we drove over to the clinic. When we got to the hospital we saw Dr. Abu Ghoush. We gave her some of your old Peptamen Jr. and other supplies. We are going to give them the blood pressure machine too. Hopefully another family will be able to use it. I threw all of your pills down the drain the other day. You would have loved that. It was kinda like when you dumped all of your CSA or whatever it was down the drain that time on the road to Minnesota. Sorry that we couldn't have gotten rid of those pills sooner. I know it was no fun for you.

Mom also gave the clinic your yellow toolbox, which she filled with all different sorts of bandaids. Dude, they have these new Star Wars bandaids that you'd love. The package is really cool; it has a hologram or something like that on it. We are going to make sure the toolbox is always stocked with good bandaids so the kids at the clinic have fun choices. You were the world's greatest bandaid lover. Speaking of boxes, Jack made a memory box where he put some of your favorite things. It will help him think of you. He misses you so much. I bought Stuart Little 2 to watch with him, but he really wasn't interested. It was more your kind of movie and I was sad that I couldn't watch it with you.

Maybe we can read these letters to you out at the cemetery or something. I look forward to visiting you out there. I hope you're not cold or lonely. I wish I could keep you warm and safe. Maybe we can watch Stuart Little 2 together. I'll charge your DVD player.

All of my love forever.