Bearing Nadav’s memory

(This post is the fourth of a series about Nadav's death. The previous ones are Et lux perpetua luceat eumNadav's legacy, and Facing Nadav's death)
 
Today, it has been six years since Nadav died.
 
Most people would say his story is heartbreaking. And it actually is, in a way. But it is also one of the best and bravest stories I’ve ever witnessed.
Was I sad when he passed away? Yes, because he was a great person. But am I sad today when I think about him? No, because he lived, and I was lucky enough to cross his path. Today, I am infinitely grateful for having been his companion for six months, and for everything he brought into my life.
 
His father said one day that he often wondered what would stay from Nadav now, in our daily lives. I can only say : but I can't even take it out of my life. He shaped my life with his. And he still lives in it.
He was only a kid; yet he reached out to the shattered kid hidden into me, and bonded with him. I was supposed to take care of him, and I did; but he also took care of this small kid and nursed him back to life. And after his death, his influence helped me to rise again to the challenge of living. Not a bad record for a ten-year-old kid.
To this day, he is one of my greatest teachers, and he will be so until my own death.
 
Today, he’s not here anymore. But he’s not only a memory for me ; he's in my life. I bear his legacy day in, day out. And I am adamant to fulfil it through my life, and pass it on to my future kids.
 
Yet this legacy is not a burden; it is a quiet, unrelenting push to be aware of my luck to be alive, and enjoy it. I don’t consciously think about him every day, but every time I need it, I feel his presence. Through good times and hard times, he’s here, and I can simply ask him anything.
And every time I do, I feel his energy, his conviction recalling me life is to be spent LIVING. Not hiding, not shying away from it, not pretending. But facing it.
 
He reminds me, by his example, that my life is my own responsibility, and if I shy away from it I will be the only one to blame. That living means to be in the here and now, accept your situation as it is, accept yourself as you are, then taking full responsibility of it and move forward with all your might.
These two things are deeply intertwined. If you don’t take responsibility of your life, you’re stuck where you are and can’t move forward. Because you don’t write your story yourself, you let it be written by chance, or by somebody else; and you slowly lose your power to write it as you wish.
Instead, if you start to look facts straight into the eye and take responsibility of what happens to you, you regain the power to change your story and its ending.
The only way out of your problems is the way through, not the way around.
 
Nadav's life was the best illustration of this. His illness doomed him to death; but he made of this a story of will and drive, not one of resignation and weakness. Instead of helplessly fleeing death and killing time until his last day, he did what mattered to him, he fought until the end; and when the end came, he knew it, and he surrendered as a warrior, not as a victim.
The facts are the same, but the words his attitude brings to our lips are not that he died; but that he lived. 
That makes for a whole different story.
 
Thus he proves us it would be a shame to spend your life fleeing your problems or drowning into them, instead of facing them head-on, engage with them and… truly live your life. Whatever you want it to be, soaring to the heights or quietly following the stream.
This path of responsibility and awareness is indeed harder to follow. But it is always worth it.
Because we only have one life, haven’t we ?
 
You may not be aware of it, but every day, people around us die. Every day, like Nadav, a few people leave life; and every morning we may be one of them. Yet, some of us are still alive at the end of the day.
We are survivors, every day, every time we open our eyes again and see the world. And every day we are a bit more lucky to be alive.
We should be grateful for the time given to us, not resentful because it is limited.
 
Dead people remind us we have a life. That we have the fantastic privilege to be alive here and now; so why would we want to spend this precious time pointlessly? They show us the importance of life and of what really matters as long as we are alive: our close ones, our life purpose, our path towards what makes us more human. 
They leave us their memory, not to burden our life, but to deepen it. Bearing it is a gift, not a woe.
They don't wish you to live less because of their death, but to live better thanks to their life.
What greatest tribute could you pay to Nadav than giving your absolute best shot at life, then?
 
All those I knew and lost live in my mind and lend me their weight, their presence, to be fully aware of the life running into my veins. Their memory blends into my life and makes it richer, deeper, brighter. Livelier.
 
Being a bearer of Nadav's memory reminds me of the blessing of life, and of my power for living.
 
So, folks, live your life. Don’t waste it. Be grateful for it, take responsibility and live your life to the fullest.
And as long as you will keep and follow Nadav’s drive in your life, he will live into you. 
 
 
In memoriam Nadav Shavit.

Requiem aeternam dona eo

Ce n’est pas mon deuil ; ce n’est pas ma douleur. Mais je la partage, parce qu’elle touche des proches.
Ce n’est jamais que la quatrième fois que ça m’arrive, de voir un drame surgir à côté de moi. À chaque fois, je n’ai pas d’autre lien qu’affectif avec les personnes touchées ; à chaque fois je m’en sens partie prenante malgré tout ; et le choc s’il est moindre n’en est pas moins réel.
Une fois c’était une personne seule ; la seconde c’était des parents ; les deux dernières fois c’est d’un enfant qu’il s’agit…
Il existe peu d’événements plus terribles dans la vie d’un parent que de faire le deuil de quelqu’un qu’ils ont désiré, qu’ils ont aimé assez pour lui donner la vie et leur temps, qui devait leur survivre, enfin.
Souvent, au cœur de la souffrance d’autrui, on peut encore faire, dire, espérer quelque chose. Ne serait-ce qu’avoir conscience que notre présence peut aider, et être là, même si on n’en mesure pas l’effet.
Parfois, il ne reste plus rien d’autre que l’impuissance.
 
 
Et c’est cela le plus terrible à subir, au fond. Ce n’est pas la mort, ce n’est pas la douleur, puisqu’on sait qu’elle ne nous touche pas directement, qu’elle n’a pas de commune mesure avec celle des parents. C’est de voir un gouffre s’ouvrir sous les pieds d’un proche, le voir tomber dedans ; c’est vouloir l’aider de toute son âme, et savoir dans le même instant qu’on ne le peut pas. Que personne ne le peut ; qu’il doit traverser cela seul. Que ça le brise en mille morceaux et qu’il ne sait pas s’il parviendra à recoller les morceaux un jour.
Et cela ne nous laisse que plus démuni devant sa souffrance et la nôtre.
 
Il ne reste qu’à accepter cette faille béante ouverte dans notre quotidien ; à la regarder en face ; à laisser la douleur nous traverser ; et à prendre une nouvelle fois conscience que vivre est un privilège qui nous est donné par la grâce du destin, et que nous prenons trop souvent pour acquis.
 
Alors vivez ; et donnez du sens à votre vie. La grâce de la mort est de nous rappeler l’importance de notre existence, si humble soit-elle.
Une vie peut changer le monde ; un jour de ce monde peut changer une vie. 
 

Retour à l’intellect

Depuis quelques mois, un nouveau tournant s'amorce, qui est de nouveau un retour aux sources. 
Je redeviens ce que je n’ai jamais cessé d’être, au fond : une intellectuelle. Au sens littéral : quelqu’un qui a de la réflexion, qui fait de l’esprit, qui réfléchit pour tout. J’analyse tout dans ma vie, certes ; ce n’est pas neuf. Mais je me tourne à nouveau maintenant vers l’art, la culture, la littérature, la critique ; toutes ces choses que j’ai cultivées en prépa, puis délaissées, parce que je m’en sentais indigne, pour ne pas avoir réussi l'École Normale Supérieure.
À ne pas confondre avec « l'intellectualité » que Nathalie Sarraute stigmatise dans Tropismes : 
« Lui cacher cela – vite – avant qu’elle ne le flaire, l’emporter, le soustraire à son contact avilissant… Mais elle les déjouait, car elle connaissait tout. (…) Dans les recoins les plus secrets, dans les trésors les mieux dissimulés, elle fouillait de ses doigts avides. Toute « l’intellectualité ». Il la lui fallait. Pour elle. Pour elle, car elle savait maintenant le véritable prix des choses. Il lui fallait l’intellectualité. »

Entrée dans l’âge adulte

En me réveillant ce matin, je me sentais fatiguée, pas motivée. Un peu grognon.
Je me suis raisonnée ; puis j’ai décidé d’être sympa avec moi-même et de ne pas forcer. J’ai pris mon temps pour me lever, me mettre en route. Pendant la méditation, mes sensations étaient différentes. Je me sentais plus petite dans l’espace, et plus grande à la fois. Un peu étrange, mais pas désagréable.
J’ai mangé, puis je suis allée courir. Je n’ai pas cherché à forcer l’allure, seulement à avancer. Bien sûr, au milieu j’étais un peu lassée ; je me suis poussée un peu. À la fin, l’allure était plus facile à tenir ; en regardant le chrono j’ai vu que le rythme était bon.
J’ai bouclé la distance, arrêté le chrono, et j’ai commencé à marcher à un bon rythme pour me refroidir.
Et quelque part dans ma tête, est arrivée sans prévenir la pensée que j’avais trente ans. Que ça faisait quinze ans que j’avais passé l’âge de quinze ans.

Affronter la mort de Nadav

Ceci est la traduction d'un post plus ancien, Facing Nadav's death, écrit en anglais.
 
Ce post a mis un temps fou à sortir sur le papier sous une forme lisible, si bien qu’il a pris beaucoup de retard. Mais laissons-le être la troisième évocation de Nadav, pour le troisième anniversaire de sa mort.
 
Tout est venu d’un commentaire du père de Nadav sur ce que j’avais écrit en mémoire de son fils pour le second anniversaire de sa mort (dans L’Héritage de Nadav).
J’avais été surprise par l’ampleur des réactions provoquées par ce post, et il m’a simplement répondu un jour : « Très peu de gens parviennent réellement à regarder en face leurs sentiments les plus douloureux, les plus angoissants. Tout le monde (ou presque) passe sa vie à fabriquer des stratégies d’évitement, de contournement ; et lorsque c’est réussi, ils appellent ça « le bonheur ». Mais, en fait, au fond, personne n’est vraiment dupe. Et toi tu arrives et tu leur balances à la figure le simple fait qu’il en faut peu pour regarder la vie droit dans les yeux. Et ça, ça bouleverse les gens. »
 
Alors, j’ai logiquement pensé à ce qui fait peur à presque tout le monde, à ce que les gens évitent le plus dans leurs vies : la mort.
À la mort de Nadav. Et à une autre : celle des parents d’une amie que je connaissais depuis l’enfance et à qui je tenais vraiment, sans jamais l’avoir dit. Leur mort dans un accident de la route m’a désintégrée en mille morceaux, ensuite Nadav est mort peu de temps après.

Dare to be free

Freedom is everything in the world. It is the vision of hills rolling everywhere around you when you step on the top of the summit you’ve been climbing since dawn. The feeling of oneness you feel when lost in your action within the world, be it running, writing, working in the fields, talking with a friend. The glory of seeing a new dawn rising on your corner of Earth, alone in the quietness of the fading night.  It is the moment when you feel your heart expanding to the universe, filled with happiness and joy to be simply here and be what you are.
It is the feeling you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. This potential to be whatever you wish to be. To know you can get up tomorrow and choose to be a totally different person from who you used to be. That you can choose a path among those you see in front of you or build your own one. That you can achieve whatever you want, if you set out to do it.
There’s only one condition to keeping that freedom alive, but it is paramount.

« You shall be redeemed » (Isaiah 52:3)

 

It is only when watching Andrew Solomon’s TEDTalk 2014, « How the worst moments of our lives makes us who we are », then another one, « Depression, the secret we all share » that I heard testimonies from people who had had depression, telling about similar things than those I experienced when I was younger.
 
One of them, said M.Solomon, told him she was hearing a voice in her head, while trying to cover it by singing to herself the same song over and over. A voice that was telling her : « You are nothing. You are nobody. You don’t even deserve to live ». And she said that was when she really started thinking about killing herself.
 
It struck a chord. I kept watching. Listening to all theses testimonies, among them Solomon’s own, no less impressive than the others.
And something struck even deeper, when, once the talk ended, I revved back to precise moments, precise sentences, and watched them over again.
These were adults that had been through the worst moments of their lives, and they had to cling to life with all their might to get over it. They had to find support among their families, their friends, their spouses. They even went on medication for years. They needed, in short, all their strength, all the help they could get to survive.
It happened to them when they were adults, with relationships, support, means to fight.

A matter of life over death

 

A question I’ve never been asked, a question I’ve often asked to myself, a question I may truly find the answer to only on the day of my death, is: what made me reel back from the edge of suicide, and giving my own life another chance?
 
The peculiarity of all my suicidal attempts is this : every time I found myself only inches away from a death I’d planned carefully enough to know that once I’d go on, I would not be able to go back – every time I faced the certainty of my own death once I’d decide it, I stood on the ledge for a varying amount of time, and managed to talk myself out of it.
Some wouldn’t even call that a true suicidal attempt. For them, to attempt suicide, you have to flail yourself in such a situation, to fall so far beyond all self-help and control that you have no means whatsoever to reel back by yourself, should you want it, and have to be saved by someone else to survive.

Behind every scar is a story

Behind every scar is a story (Justine Musk)
 
Yes, and that’s why I write about it, however hard and bitter it may be, no matter how awkward and humbling it can be.
Writing is my daily catharsis, the only satisfying way I found to free myself from the emotional blows I got in the past, to heal them so that they would become scars, no more seeping wounds, to be able to see them from the outside, not only from the inside. The only way for me to put them out there so I could ultimately lay them to rest.
 
« It’s only when you find the strength – and a safe inner space — to process those experiences, and weave them into your daylight life narrative, that you gain any real power over them. You put stories to the scars. What kind of story you tell is up to you. You can’t change the past, and you can’t change the facts – but story is the stuff you put around the facts in order to relate them and charge them with meaning. »

Facing Nadav’s death

Pour les francophones, la traduction de ce post se trouve là : Affronter la mort de Nadav.

 

That post took an awful lot of time to get out of my system in a readable form, so that it fell way behind the deadline. But let it be Nadav’s third reminder, for the third anniversary of his death.

It originated all from a comment from Nadav's father on what I wrote in memory of his son for the second year (in Nadav's legacy).
I was surprised how strongly people reacted to my post, and he simply answered : "Very few people actually manage to look straight into their most painful feelings. Lots of them spend their lives to build avoidance strategies, and when they succeed doing it, they call it happiness. But nobody is truly fooled. And you come here and stuff in their face the fact you don't need to be a superhero to look life straight in the eye. And it turns them upside down."

So I logically thought about what most people fear and avoid the most in their lives : death.
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