An Unlikely Friendship, Part 2 of 2
I was not only shocked. My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. I would not accept this terrible news. I could not. Out of everyone, why Simon? I wanted to help, but I was helpless.
A few months after receiving this difficult news, I was told that Simon was sick and we may not have long before he passes. I knew I had to find a way to visit him and so, since I am unable to drive in Jerusalem as a Palestinian, I went with a friend for my first of several visits.
It was a beautiful day, cooler than normal for summer, but marred by the clouds of grief that gripped the home as my friend and I entered. The family was cordial and welcomed us in, chatting about insignificant trivialities, desperately evading the topic that was on everyone’s mind-the impending death of the dear professor.
I was then able to go and speak with Simon. His son encouraged me to speak with him about my life. As I held his hand, we discussed our two families, politics, education and many other topics, and I was reminded of times together and the impact he has had on so many people, both Israelis and Palestinians. As the visit ended, Simon requested a photo with us. I was happy to capture the moment, knowing it could be our last. Thankfully, it was not, but as the summer continued, I saw Simon grow weaker, with our last visit only two weeks before he passed.
Simon also chose to visit my home one last time. He had visited my family in my home dozens of times, yet this last time he visited, he called me once he entered the Palestinian controlled area, telling me he did not remember how to find us. I drove to meet him where he waited. When I arrived, I looked at him in surprise, asking what had happened that he forgot? He responded simply, that he is no longer himself. His sickness was eating away at him.
Following his death, my husband and I attended his funeral, bidding him goodbye, sharing in the sorrow of those who knew and loved him. I will never forget the many who flooded in to remember Simon and the impact he had on such a diverse group of people.
The significant role he played in my own life can never be forgotten either. In fact, soon after graduation, I gave birth to another child, and had it been a boy, we would have named him Simon. She is a girl, and we nicknamed her ‘Simona.’
There are many things I could say about Simon and many stories I could tell. I loved him because he never gave up on me when I was a struggling student. I loved him because he encouraged me to work past the challenges I encountered. He never gave up on me as a Palestinian, encouraging me to do more for my people, and seeking to help me do so. He cared for the marginalized who suffer politically, financially, physically. He was not a Christian, but he exceeded the goodness of most Christians I know. We are told to help the poor, and he gave and gave of himself to those in need. We are told to perform our acts of goodness in secret, so if our right hand does something, our left does not notice. I saw from the side as Simon did good things that most will never know about.
Simon’s profession was finance, but I learned from him so much more than numbers. I learned how to live a giving life, and the examples he demonstrated before me were far more numerous than I can count.
Goodbye, Simon. Even in your passing, you are remembered, you are loved, and your example continues to motivate others, particularly me.