03 November, 2010

Goodbye, RivkA

Well, I've been in kind of a slump. We were shocked and saddened to hear this past Friday that our friend from so long ago, RivkA Matitya, had left this world. We used to know RivkA back when we hung out in the Bnei Akiva building in Jerusalem in the early 90's - she was always there in the Yavne Olami office, where she spent so much of her time. She was always a burst of smiles and energy, and we were happy to talk with her, again and again!

Then we lost contact, and when I first heard about the Coffee and Chemo blog, I was sad to realize that it was written by that same sweet friend of ours from way back. Until I started actually reading her blog, and saw that RivkA wasn't in any kind of a slump herself - she was still all smiles and energy, but using it now to live her more adult life with her husband and kids. She was seemingly a whirlwind of energy, running from event to event, loving her family, teaching swimming classes (!) and more. We did get to actually reconnect in person a couple of times, at various happy occasions and at the JBloggers picnic that she organized in Jerusalem, just a little over a year ago. Here's the photo that I have from then - you can see her beaming (as she always has) in the middle:
To give you a small understanding of what she was like, here's part of one of her blog posts from 2007:
Okay, so here is the deal: I don't want people to look at me with sad, "droopy" eyes.

I don't want people to think of me and feel sad.

I don't want people to see me and feel sorry.

I don't want to be the cause of worry and concern.

I know that when you first hear the news, it's a bit of a shock. So it's okay to be sad in the beginning (I was too). But don't stay there!

You can ask me anything.

I'm totally open.

I don't mind talking about the cancer or what's going on.

Chemo certainly affects the day-to-day of my life, so there's no ignoring it.

But I really don't intend to hang out in some dark, depressing emotional pit.

So here's what I want:

When you think of me, be happy.

When you see me, smile.

Anyway, it didn't work - we were sad on Friday, and I know I've never cried as much at anyone's funeral as much as I did at hers, on Saturday night. Then Sunday morning came around, and I found this sun rising on the way to work - and somehow couldn't help but think that RivkA had gone from lighting up our world to lighting up the heavens:
And I started to realize that I was doing just the opposite of what she would have done - we're meant to be happy, and take advantage of every good thing that life gives us! If we can all start acting the way she did, the world will quickly become a far better place. So I'm going to try, and I hope you all will too!

In that spirit, here's a fast, funny sign that we found in Sharon, MA just a few weeks ago. I know, those of you from Massachusetts may not find this funny. But some of the rest of us do!
(By the way, as a humorous aside to our Boston trip: my Israeli coworkers are shocked that I [or anyone] can pronounce "Massachusetts." They claim that saying it aloud must be part of the U.S. naturalization test.)

May RivkA's family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem! Shiva information can be found on her blog, Coffee and Chemo.

Please daven (or send happy thoughts) for the memory of RivkA bat Yishaya.


Anonymous said...

I never met RivkA, but her blog certainly taught me a lot how to act in life, or rather, how I want to act in life. What a well-written tribute, and that picture of her lighting up the world is the perfect antidote to the sadness of her passing. She's in a better place now, and because of her attitude and words, so are we.


rutimizrachi said...

GORGEOUS photo of the cloud-kissed sky! Nice tribute. Thank you so much for sharing.

Devorah said...

Beautiful message about someone so special. I don't know her personally but read her blog and feel like I really know her...and felt the loss from so far away.

I agree with what you said - now she is lighting up the heavens and down here it is dark without her. But those of us who are still here will continue to light up the world and do things for her neshama to go higher!