My 37-Year-Old Friend Died Monday
On Monday, my friend, Ben Grossman, died. He was 37.
Ben taught everyone around him many lessons in the way he lived and in the way he responded to getting sick. I’ve been reflecting the last couple days in particular on what I will remember most.
Ben had a calm, patient energy. He had an easy smile. Living across the street, seeing him throughout the week, the memories I will hold onto all share the thread of his kindness. I will remember Ben walking with his kids to synagogue. I will remember Labor Day afternoon hiking with our families in Franklin Canyon, just 10 months ago, before illness took away his mobility.
I will remember the seriousness with which Ben took prayer and connecting spiritually. I will remember the countless times when I got to hear his beautiful voice singing, on Friday nights and Shabbat afternoons, at gatherings with friends. I will remember Ben’s devotion to the rabbis around him, and the way he was moved by stirring words of Torah. I will remember Ben preparing himself physically for treatment by first preparing himself spiritually, getting on a plane to Israel to visit the most learned, holy teachers he could find.
I will remember specific moments: davening with Ben on Rosh Hashana a few years ago, his voice full of emotion with a terrifying understanding of the life-and-death content of the liturgy. It was hard not to be moved by his purity of intention, advocating not only for himself but for a whole room of people who were with him. And I will remember the many moments when Ben, in turn, was moved by the kindness of people around him — even little things.