When sorrow strikes, it knows how to hurt.
It can also bring words to spring you into doing something to make the hurt be useful.
As I am carefully choosing some words to share publicly here, a family is getting ready to bury their son, their brother, their grandson, their cousin, their nephew, their friend, and to face the awful reality to go on living without him forever.
I have known the mother who is going to have to do this today for many years online, as she was one of the first rabbis I encountered when I started blogging and when I was later trying to get our own rabbi to give it a try. She is known as @imabima on Twitter and Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. When she received the devastating news that her second child, in June 2012, had leukemia, she started chronicling the difficult journey until the unfathomable moment “Superman Sam” died on Saturday morning.
There is so little I can do when I am “just” an online friend, when the country is wide and the distances long, to accompany the family in this most painful day. So I choose to let my own followers know about the story, if they have never heard about it yet, and if they have already I remind them how I care about it, and how it hurts to have yet another tragedy to share.
If you do not know the Sommer family, you can get to read what has been shared and how Sam made an amazing impact of thousands and thousands now of readers. And if he has been able to do so via the power of social media, you can only imagine how much more impact his life of eight years must have had on those who held him in their embrace. This is a terrible loss, but his legacy and his memory will be for a blessing always if we continue doing something in remembering him.
His mother will shave her head on March 31, 2014 as part of a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for pediatric cancer research, launched by #36rabbis and now followed by others. If you are compelled by the story and do not know what to say, just donate something to any of these brave and positive people who want to raise awareness as well as incredibly needed funds for research. So that we don’t have to keep telling you about those wonderful children who touched our lives and left us crying their loss.
I donated to the #RabbisInTheBackRow, because this is where I would sit if I was present in the room, and also because those with less hair should also see big dollars on their donation pledge. I can’t shave, and I am not a rabbi, but I can write and call you to action, a small one can have such a ripple effect indeed.