Echoes of Elul, Day 12: JOY and TRAGEDY within 12 Hours

By Karin Altonaga

A young boy named Scott started his life in a beautiful family and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD. He struggled for many years and ended his life with a drug overdose at the age of 29. A young girl of 21 from a different family, nearly lost her life to a rare blood disorder ten years ago and just recently gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy. Both of these tragic and joyful events happened to my dearest lifelong friends within 12 hours of each other less than one week ago.

Scott was young, healthy and fit and had been drug free for a year and a half. He had signed up to be an organ donor. His organs may save the lives of several people and his memory will be a blessing in uncountable ways. It leads me to ponder how little we know about Gods plans and what roles we play in those plans. Our lives are truly in God’s hands.

And now we are in Elul, a month of reflection and introspection. I reflect on these recent life events and how blessed I am to be in good health, have a loving husband and grown children and grandchildren that I have close relationships with. I take none of these things for granted and am grateful for every day that it all continues.

I am grateful that my children embraced Judaism as adults and that my Jewish learning and observance has grown these past few years as well. Judaism gives us all a framework in which to improve ourselves and continuously work on our relationships with God, each other, and the world at large. It helps us weather the challenging times we go through and whatever storms may lie ahead of us.

May every year bring blessings and may every challenge we face be surmountable. I hope I can be of comfort to my friends who are suffering an unimaginable loss and take part in the joy of helping my friends celebrate the miracles that come their way.

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