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.