Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fleeting Moments

Friday, May 30, 2008. 845pm. The phone call I did not want to receive. "Are you at the movies?" my husband asked. I was going to see Sex and the City with my girlfriends. "We're driving there" I told him, "Why?" The phone call seemed odd. "I want you to keep going to the movies, ok? I want you to go." The comment didn't make any sense. "What is going on" I asked. "Bill passed away."

This was the phone call I didn't want to get. The phone call that I knew I would receive one day, and probably one day within the next year or so, but the day that I hoped beyond all hope would be so far away. Far enough away to never come.

Bill to us. Papa Bill to my kids. Gone in an instant.

Bill was larger than life. Literally. Especially when I was 10 years old. "Amy, where's your fiddle," he would ask me when I was 10 and in 5th grade orchestra. I'd see him at school, and around, or when we would hang out with Michael. Years later, I would see him when I started dating Craig and we would spend time at their house. He was big. Loud. Funny. Fun. Smart. And so special.

This family became Craig's family, and later my family. Blood ties didn't matter. Craig was their son. Aaron and Camryn were their grandkids. And there was no differentiation between blood and non-blood, no thought to biology. They were all the same.

When we were 14, Bill and his family gave Craig a home. It was all legal, papers were signed and responsibility was taken. Responsibility for the life and well-being of a child who biologically wasn't theirs. But Bill and Cheryl didn't care. They left it up to Michael because he would have to share a room. It didn't matter. They became parents to Craig. Real parents. The kind of parents who make you clean your room, who sit down to eat dinner as a family together, who give you chores and celebrate holidays with you.

Craig came back to live with Bill and Cheryl after college, after Michael and Ilana had moved out. Craig and I took the train to the city every day with Bill. He would read, do puzzles and talk. Talk to everyone. Sometimes a little embarrassing because he literally talked to everyone. Whoever sat in that 4th seat with us to fill the square would be talked to the whole way home. And by the end of the train ride, they would be his friend.

Fast forward to when Craig and I got engaged. We came home from a weekend upstate and I was surprised by a bunch of friends and family at our house. Bill & Cheryl along with Michael and Ilana were there, all so proud of Craig. He was part of their family. And now I was going to be part of their family. Over the next months, we talked about wedding plans and they were so excited. Being in the garment district, Bill offered to give me the information on the designer where Ilana got her wedding dress. Cheryl said, "Just wear Ilana's dress." What? Ilana didn't want me to wear her dress! That night I got a phone call from Ilana, "I'm excited, do you want to wear my dress?" This is a family.

At our wedding, I will never forget the cheering and the thunderous applause when our best man made a speech. "I want to thank two people, without who, Craig wouldn't be where he is today," he started. "Thank you to Bill & Cheryl for everything that you did." Take the noise that 200 people can make, and multiply it by about 100. That was the volume in that room.

When Aaron was born, they were on vacation, driving home from Viriginia or North Carolina, I forget. But they came to the hospital that night, to see their grandson. They were so happy and proud, sitting and holding him. When Camryn was born, they were so excited to meet her! Their 4th grandchild! Three months later, Craig and I were trying to figure out who would perform Camryn's baby naming. We didn't have a relationship with a rabbi or even know one, for that matter. Craig had the amazing idea to ask Bill to do it. Why not? He knows us, loves us, loves the kids and was so smart, he absolutely could do it. He was so proud and honored to be asked, and spent so much time researching. He gave us a certificate for Camryn, told stories about her Hebrew name and gave so much information about the ceremony. A few months later, he performed Jara's naming ceremony at Ilana's.

Over the past three months while Bill was in the hospital, we knew that there would come a time where we would get the phone call. And there were times where we thought it was the end. But so many miracles, he pulled through the worst crises. And was okay. But Friday he wasn't. He didn't feel well, and in an instant was gone.

Camryn is still too little to understand, but Aaron understood. The first thing he said when we told him was, "So, I'll never see him again?" At 5 years old, I wish he didn't need to know this. But when he looked at me with those giant eyes and said, "Mommy, I'm sad. I'm sad because my Papa Bill died," that was the worst for me. I couldn't hold back the tears anymore.

Two weeks ago, we brought the kids to the rehab center to see Bill. He was pretty tired and we said a quick hi and left. The last time Craig saw him, he said to the nurse, "Oh, my son is here." What a special man to do the things that he has done in his life. He's someone that we will always love, remember and think about, knowing that he'll always be with us. We know he's up in heaven, causing havoc with his pals.


  1. I can only imagine how hard it was to write this post and its so moving. I am sending you lots of hugs. Bill really was an incredible man and I know how special he was to you, Craig, Aaron & Camryn. I am so sorry for your loss and hope you know I am here if you need ANYTHING!

  2. I wish there were words to ease the pain you're feeling after the loss of someone so dear. You have painted a beautiful picture of him with this post. You're luckier than most people because you had the chance to have such an incredible person in your life. I'll be thinking about you.

  3. I'm sorry for your loss. This was a really beautiful post--a nice tribute. He'd be proud.

  4. What a wonderful man he was. I hope that memories of him will bring all of you a little bit of comfort. Hang in there. :)


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