YOSSI CHAIM'S (z"l)
VERY OWN WEB PAGE
This picture was taken at Camp Simcha this past August and was brought down to us by his counselor. This is a nice way to remember Yossi as he was not only happy, but HEALTHY!
Scroll down for LATEST UPDATES, or
click on one of the dates below.
If you want to write to Yossi's mom, Leah, click here.
And if you want to write to Yossi's dad, Michoel, click here.
Here is the link to
take you to some of the inspirational letters I have gotten. I will
continue to add more as time allows. The letters are so beautiful. I
wouldn't try to read a lot at one time. Thank you again for all your
support. Right now I am just going to put up a few that we have
received since he passed, and there are two from way before that I
never had a chance to put up.
Thank you, Anna for such a beautiful memorial picture of Yossi. (1 letter added May 11, 2001)
Just as a reminder, I started an online listserv for bereaved (Jewish) parents. To sign up, please visit JP Net (Jewish Parents Network) at JP Net at Yahoo Groups(home of the new Bereaved Jewish Parents listserv). Please pass the word along.
If you want to see what books have been donated or what books are on the wish list, please go to Yossi Chaim's Lending Library. It was last updated on Oct. 10, 2007.
Laurie Topaz has helped me a lot. She is working with me to raise money for the library. I am so grateful. I can't believe how humiliating it is to beg for money. It really makes you feel like dirt, even though you are doing it for a cause you really believe in. My mom made a nice donation, as did Laurie and her husband On. Wendy and Randy Howard made a very generous donation too.
I am currently running a book-a-thon to help raise money for the library. The kids are supposed to get sponsors. They read as many books as they can for three weeks, and then the money is paid towards Kehot Publications. We get credit for the money raised, and can buy books with that money. The kids have to read Judaic books for them to count, and they have to be age appropriate. I decided to participate as well. So if you want to sponsor me or one of my kids, please let me know via email.
The last thing is that Yossi's story is going to appear in a magazine called You and Me. I will put up a link once it comes out!
October 4 was 7 years since Yossi relapsed. The fall holidays are always sad for us since both is original diagnoses and relapsed occurred around the same time. There are some beautiful videos on you tube if you would like to see them here: first video and this is the second video and this is the third video.
Thanks for coming back to Yossi's web page.
Then this past Friday, my good friend's daughter was involved in a terrible car accident. One of the girls in the car was killed. All weekend, I keep thinking of this family I have never met. How devastated they all must be! How terrible! I know all the right things to think .. This is what Hashem wanted; She's in a better place; blah blah blah. She is dead. Her family will never see her get married or have kids or see what she could have done with her life. Her death has touched me so much; but I would rather have met her in life than in death. It seems so pointless. I get so discouraged, because I look all around me, and I just wish I could tell the Yidden to shape up and do what Hashem wants so we can finally have the guelah (redemption). So much pain. Ad masai! Enough.
HAPPY 19TH BIRTHDAY YOSSMAN!
Today was a real weird day. I have been reading two books off an on each Shabbos. (One is Tales for the Soul 6 and the other is One Shining Moment.) They have uplifting stories, and most of them are really short. (I don't have a very long attention span these days.) For some reason, all of a sudden, I felt this very strong love for Hashem. I mean, I don't feel this very often. But I was like, Wow, Hashem is really so good to me. I have so many things in my life to be thankful for. (OK, I was standing by the bathroom, which is opposite my sewing room, so I was kinda thinking of in terms of my stuff in there ....) I really appreciate so many of the modern toys and gadgets I have. I have the best husband who takes such excellent care of me and the kids. I have normal kids (in the sense that they fight like cats and dogs and don't listen to us). So I am feeling very loving towards Hashem right at that moment, and very thankful for so much. And then I read this story about while davening (praying), you should think of 5 things you are thankful for! I was really blown away by that. Maybe Hashem was showing me that he was in sync with me? Who knows.
Chanie announced today that I “forgot” it was Yossi's birthday. I told her that I didn't, and it wasn't really until Shabbos was over. I celebrate the Hebrew day, not the English. I am not sure if she bought it, since I always acknowledge the number 414. But that was a code we used when we had beepers rather than cell phones. Everyone knew that if there was a problem, we would page with the number 414. So it sort of stuck, and now it pops up at odd times.
They say that when you lose someone you love, you have to go through a grieving process. If you don't, then you bottle it up, and when you lose someone else, it all spills out, and makes that grieving so much harder. I am not so sure I agree with that. I don't think that the medical society has faced the fact that grieving is very hard. And that no matter how much you work through the process, certain things are going to set you back. On one hard, I miss my grandfather so much. I find so many times I think of him. It has not made me miss Yossi any more or any less. The only thing that I feel happy about is that Poppy is with Yossi. I know how much Poppy missed him. Poppy was one of the people who really let me grieve, and he helped me as much as he could. He never told me to it was time to move on. In fact, he told me the opposite. He told me to take as much time as I needed, and he told me to do what I needed. (He was always so supportive of me.) It pained him tremendously that Yossi died before him. So at least that is a comfort, that Yossi was there for him. I guess when Yossi left, he went into a world where he barely had anyone. He had Grandpa Sol (Michoel's grandfather). Over the last few years, he has gotten more family. I know that it is normal, but it sort of comforts me that Yossi is not so alone up there. (Not that he was ever alone.) Now a days I feel more at peace with Yossi's passing. I know that Yossi is so busy up there doing his thing. I just feel it so strongly in me. I can't even explain how I know it, any more than I can explain how I knew he was a boy when I was two months pregnant with him.
I just really hope that I am not embarrassing him in any way, shape or form! I hope he is proud of me. I guess that is a little backwards, since if he were alive, he would be the one making me proud.
Oiy do I miss him. I wish Moshiach would hurry up and come already.
(One final note ... if anyone has written to me lately, I have been neglectful in writing back. I have saved all the emails, but I have not replied to so many people. I am sorry, but at some point I will get back to you! Don't think I am ignoring you.) ~ Leah
Which brings me up to where I am now. Just a few days short of
another yartzeit. Menachem, one of Yossi's closest friends, called me
recently from Israel. He has been learning in Yossi's memory for quite
some time. He was planning on making a siyum in his yeshiva in Israel
for Yossi's yartzeit. He wanted to tell his new friends about Yossi.
Did I want him to record it for me and bring it back with him? He also
told me that Yonatan and Ari were planning on doing the same thing! I
was blown away. Yossi is really living on through his friends. I was
not planning on doing any thing special for him other than sponsoring
kiddush this week at the Yeshiva.
And so it goes on. 6 years. Who would have thought that I would have ever been at this place? Not a day goes by that I don't think about him. But I don't have this burning desire to share him with the world. In fact, quite the opposite. I tell the world I have 7 kids, but leave out the part where one is away at Yeshiva. (Yeah, you know the one ... the great Yeshiva Shel Mailah where they are just DYING to get in. OK, bad joke. Dead kid humor ... either laugh or cry. I would rather laugh.) I was finally able to take a picture (for my grandfather) of "all" my kids. And no, it was not taken at the grave or with one of them holding a picture of him. The other kids, Thank G-d, are growing up and reaching milestones Yossi never reached. It hurts, but it doesn't cut through me like a knife. As a friend said, soon there are more times that the child isn't there than the child was there. It is so sad, but it is the way it is.
One last story ... my grandfather used to comment on how in 2000 we all went to NY. My grandfather and Yossi were able to go and visit his father's grave. Yossi brushed the leaves away from the stone, and cleaned it up. It saddened my grandfather greatly that it was HE who later brushed the leaves away from Yossi's grave rather the other way around. I know Yossi was there to greet him with open arms, and I can just picture how truly happy my grandfather was to see him. And you know what? I am not even jealous! I am glad for him.
Shauly's bar mitzvah was a ton of work. I was the caterer, and worked like a mad woman cooking and cooking and cooking. But it was actually a very nice weekend. It was fantastic that two of my friends left behind their large families to come down and spend Shabbos with us. My family came in from out of town. And I was very proud of Shauly. He gives us lots of nachas. Michoel was very sad, as he said Yossi would have loved to have a bar mitzvah. Michoel felt that Yossi got "gypped" yet again. The summer was very quiet for us, but quiet is sooo good. Much better to have life settle down than be exciting, IMHO. Michoel did have some health issues, and continues to, but Baruch Hashem, it is not any thing real serious.
School started in the fall. Goldie is not in the local Jewish school. It is breaking my heart. She is going to public school. The only good thing to come out of this is that she is hoping to graduate at the end of the summer, and going to Israel for seminary a year early. I am also looking into a yeshiva for Shauly to go to next year. I would like to send him to a Lubavitch school. The hard part is that Shauly wants to be a doctor, so he needs a program that will challange him. He is also slightly lazy, in the sense that he is not disciplined enough to work on his own. Many of the schools I am looking into do not have good secular studies. So it is a big toss up where he will go next year.
I know that this sounds so weird, but I am basically pretty much at peace with all this. This year Yossi's friends are not here. If Yossi had lived, he would have hopefully been gone now any way. In a way, it makes it easier. I have no regrets when I fudge and tell people I have 7 kids. I do. Just one of mine is away at Yeshiva. (I don't explain that he is attending Yeshiva Shel Mailah.) My theory is that my friends who have married off their kids still consider it like they have the same number of kids. So in my mind, why can't I continue to count Yossi among my kids. Shoshana does not understand about Yossi, really. When we make challah, she wants to offer the piece to Yossi. I keep trying to explain to her that Yossi is NOT Hashem. Yossi is just WITH Hashem. But it is just too hard for her to grasp it. I haven't been to Yossi's grave since his birthday, so she is losing that connection with him as well. And obviously, Sheindy has no idea. I also stopped wearing my necklaces all the time. I am comfortable with knowing Yossi is with me, and he is in my heart.
Please say a prayer for Zelda Yitta bas Ruchel if you can. She is a friend of mine who lost her son to cancer. She is now having her own battle with cancer. Sometimes it seems like some people get more on their plates than others. I just hope and pray Moshiach comes soon.
I have been a total slacker in many respects, but not for a bad reason. I need to update the site with information on Yossi's yartzeit. I have the pictures edited and up. I have started a page with a link to all the speeches. I even wrote a summary. But I am missing two speeches, and I haven't had the time to type up the speeches that were handed to me at the end. I am sorry. :-( But at least it is for a good reason. I had a baby girl on Feb. 21! She is named Sheindy after both my grandmother and Michoel's grandmother. Then I had Passover keeping me busy, and now I am working on Shauly's bar mitzvah.
Wow, 18 years. It is so weird for me. I know I had a son 18 years ago. I know he should be getting ready to go off to Israel or college. But I don't know what it is to have an 18 year old child in the house. I can't imagine what it is to say, "Run to the store and get me some eggs" on a short Friday when I realize I am out (yet again). And yet, in my head, Yossi is not a little boy who is on the verge of becoming a man. He is ready to spread his wings. Well, I sort of feel like he already has. I no longer feel the burning desire to go to the cemetery the way I used to. In fact, there is more time between visits than when I go. I feel like he is no longer connected there. He is off doing whatever it is that they do up in Gan Aiden. He is fine, and happy. I know that, in my heart. I just miss him, and feel very cheated on the fact that I don't get to see it with my eyes, and shep nachas from watching him grow. That hurts.
Shauly is now older than Yossi was. It is just 5 weeks until his bar mitzvah. Michoel and I have dragged our feet on planning it. It is just too hard and too painful. I know that we need to put our feelings behind us, and do what Shauly wants, but we just can't. I hope at some point in his life, Shauly will understand and forgive us. He is such a good boy. He doesn't complain (much) and accepts that this is what it is. We are doing a very small, private affair, with mostly just family and Shauly's friends and teachers. Shauly is using Yossi's tefillin. He even wanted to keep Yossi's bags. He is using those bags for now, while he is waiting for his own bags. Anyway, the whole thing is just so weird. I should know what I am doing from having done this before, and yet this is all new ground for me. Yossi was supposed to blaze the trailer, and instead he fell off the cliff, so to speak.
It is very late, and I just really wanted to wish Yossi a Happy Birthday! I know it sounds weird and I am very demented for even thinking in this way. I will share one little secret with you all ... today I took Sruli for his allergy appointment. Some women were admiring Sheindy. They asked if these were my only two kids. I laughed and told them I had 5 more. They were shocked. Then I told them that my oldest is going to be 18 tomorrow. Not exactly a lie, but not exactly the whole truth either. It was sort of fun to pretend that he is still here in a physical sense.
I thought that losing Yossi (Z"L zichron
l'bracha [his memory should be a blessing]) would be the hardest day of
my life. I was wrong. Today truly was the saddest day.
We got to KBI early so we could get a chance to say our final farewells. We believe that a person's neshama (soul) stays around the body until it is finally buried. So we could talk to him and he was right there. When I got to KBI, and I saw the aron (coffin), I hugged it and kissed him and cried. My grandfather got very upset, and told me he had never seen me cry.
Michoel, Goldie, Shauly and myself had to "tear k'reah". This is a 3 inch cut we make on the right side of our outer garment. It symbolizes that our son (or brother as the case may be) has been ripped from our life. As the synagogue filled up, we began the service. The first part was tehillim. After that I think that we had the eulogies (hespid). (I know you all understand that my memory is a little faulty here. It's been a very long day.) I spoke first. I read a letter that my friend Jocelyne posted to our list serv on Ped-Onc. Then I followed the speech I had written, but instead of reading it, I said what I thought I had written. (I forgot to say some of what I had written. Oh well. The link will take you to what I had planned on saying.) Then Michoel spoke from his heart. When he spoke, we could hear people weeping openly. My father in law spoke about his fond memories of Yossi. Shauly and Goldie read a beautiful poem that Ari Freedman from Ohr Meir sent me last night to comfort me. The next one to speak was Yossi�s Hebrew teacher, Rabbi Sherman. Dabney Lewis, Yossi's civics and language arts teacher was next. He spoke very elequently and in poetic form. Finally, Rabbi Kranz spoke and sang Yossi a song about his soul being accompanied up to Heaven with the angels. Then Rabbi Ron opened it up to whoever wanted to come up and speak. Jonathan Ben Ezra spoke beautifully. Cari Duval, a nurse from the BMT clinic also came up. Finally, Mr. Scott, Yossi�s first tutor came up to speak. Then we took Yossi to his final resting spot. Our motorcade this time had over 150 cars in it! It was so long that we could not see when it ended.
Once most of the people had gotten out of their cars, the pallbearers got took Yossi out of the hearse. The family walked in front of the coffin. When they put the coffin down on the hole, Michoel and I hugged it one last time and sobbed. It was our final farewell. My mom threw in some rocks from Arizona and told Yossi to remember all the good times. Then they lowered the aron into the hole. Michoel and I had to shovel the dirt onto him. I cried and shook as I did it. I truly can�t believe that my beautiful and gifted Yossman is now laying in the cold ground. I know that the REAL Yossi is up in shamayim (heaven) with G-d, but I still want to shower my Yossi with kisses and hugs. I have to settle on videos to hear those precious words, "Mommy, I love you." (Side note --every parent should shower their kids with extra kisses/ You never know what tomorrow might bring.) My kids then shoveled some dirt into the grave. They also had some dirt from Jerusalem that they sprinkled on top of the dirt. After a few minutes, Michoel reminded me that I was supposed to remind Yossi to remember his name. I called out to him, "Yosef Chaim, remember your name". (The soul sometimes becomes flustered in front of G-d himself, and can't remember his name to claim all his good deeds.) After the grave was half full, Rabbi Ron asked all the friends of ours to form two lines. We were supposed to walk through them as they offered the words of condolence. Michoel had a very hard time leaving. He was stooped over near the grave, and wouldn't get up. I told Rabbi Ron that they were going to have to drag him away. His mom and dad helped him up, and we began the long walk back to car. It was so hard to leave Yossi behind. Then the most amazing thing happened. It began to rain. At first it was just some drops, and then it began to come down. As we were walking through our friends, I kept my head down as I was sooooo sad. When we got into the car to go back home, my brother pointed out that it was raining only over the cemetery. There were blue skies in front of us. As we drove away, the rain began to subside. It seems that the angels in Heaven were crying with us today. (Shortened to save space ... full update over here.)
was Yossi Chaim's preschool picture. It is our custom not to cut a
boy's hair until he is 3 years old. In this picture, Yossi Chaim is
just a few months short of 3!
If you click on the picture, you can see a lot more of our favorite pictures of Yossi Chaim. It takes a very long time for all the pictures to load, so you might want to open it in a new screen.
This is an original artwork done by Yossi from his hospital bed depicting his (first) bone marrow transplant. He was 9 at the time he drew this picture. If you click on the picture, you will be able to see all kinds of neat stuff from his first transplant. There are letters people wrote, as well as people who ran for Yossi to raise money for the Leukemia society.
Please take a moment and sign Yossi Chaim's guestbook. We are still checking it on a regular basis. (Due to unscrupulous people leaving inappropriate messages, we have now had to change the settings. Before your entry appears in our guestbook, we have to preview it. I am sorry for any inconvenience ... I just can't believe the audacity of some people!!!)
Yossi's links have moved to make more room for all the updates on his page. In fact, all of the kids pages are being moved off this site and onto their own site. You can find all the kids sites as well as the complete list of sites Yossi liked on this page of cool links.
We feel blessed that so many people care about Yossi. Thanks for stopping by.