Don’t Be Afraid to Smile

2 Mar

Words truly cannot encapsulate this surreal situation. I sit here, on what would have been the 24th birthday of my dear friend, Jeff Klein. On facebook, his birthday pops up as a reminder. Yet, all I have are profound and joyous memories. As many of us reflect, I think we would all give anything back just to hear his goofy laugh again, or hear another tirade about some sports mishap. Yet, all we have is silence. Pictures. Memories. Dreams. Hopes. Desires. Wishes. In light of such a wide array of feelings, so many emotions stirring through our respective minds at once, what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to remember? What are we supposed to learn?

Perhaps it is the feeling of foreignness, a complete loss of what is fiction and what is reality, is a necessary feeling. I think to myself, how would Jeff want us to approach this day? Are we to cry? Of course. We must mourn, it is apart of our human fabric. But, aren’t we to laugh? That is, aren’t you filled with so many joyous memories that it is hard to not have a smile on your face? And it seems so odd. Out of such a tragedy, a profound loss, how is it that I am sitting here, looking through all of our pictures, laughing?

The Gun Show

It is undeniably hard to take good out of this situation. In many ways, it is an impossibility. But Jeff’s spirit would disagree. He would, I suppose, hope that we laugh. Maybe David Stern will fall today, and strain his back, and he’ll have to resign as commissioner of the NBA. Wouldn’t that be a delight? Maybe, in all this craziness, we are supposed to have profound, intense epiphanies that reinforce the miracle that life is. Maybe we all appreciate every moment, every breath that we make, the gift of life. I know, an odd suggestion, but, dare I say, is today a celebration?

In many ways, it is. We must celebrate Jeff’s life. What he gave to the world. His unique perspective. His exuberance. Goofiness. Insight. And, at times, craziness. With all the emotions running through my brain, I can’t help but accentuate all of the joy that I am filled with knowing that I had to privilege to have Jeff in my life, and for him to grace us with his presence for the time he did.

No doubt, Rich posed an interesting hypothetical – an unimaginable one, to be frank. And my answer would be the same. I would choose to have known Jeff for the time I did, and experience a profound sense of loss than to not know him at all. On Jeff’s birthday, while we all will be reflective, don’t be afraid to smile.

-Elon Rubin

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