Dearest Family and Friends –
I sit on a plane on my way home and write to you with a heart broken in small jagged pieces and tears streaming down my face. Most of you have been a part of our small, inauspicious club long enough to know that shortly after Benny was diagnosed with the horrible senseless killer that is Neuroblastoma, in a terrible twist of fate, a disease that hits barely a few hundred children each year, struck within blocks of our home and directly into the deepest part of our hearts.
The beautiful, happy, smart, 7-year old son of our dear friends Malkiel and Bassy – grandchild of one of the people who was so instrumental in our maintaining our emunah in the face of Benny’s diagnosis – classmate and friend of our son Shmuel – was diagnosed with the very same ugly malady. The shared experiences over the next four years meant that we saw and spent time with this special young man and his amazing parents in places nobody should ever have to go and to witness some of their incredible fight up close. Malkiel and Bassy are two of the most special people this world has ever produced – without the slightest bit of exaggeration – and went through the years of terror with more grace than anyone in this situation has any right to be capable of.
Despite incredible parents, who spared nothing in their efforts to find a cure for their beautiful “King Eli”, today the seemingly endless, yet all-too-short, battle did not end the way every one of us had hoped it would.
Eli will be forever remembered for his beautiful smile throughout his battle – for his sharp wit – for his wise-beyond-his-years outlook – for his inner and outer beauty… and for the thousands of individual moments that he brought his unique brand of light into the world.
You, each and every one of you, has davened for Elimelech ben Basya as you knew him for almost four years. Tonight, for one final time, please stop what you are doing and take a moment to daven for the holy neshama of Elimelech ben (Basya) Menachem Mendel Malkiel Gradon who was taken way too early at the tender age of 11… and cry with us a little… or a lot…
Ari, Faigie, the whole family and especially Shmuel and Benny who had the honor to consider King Eli a royal friend