The last time I saw Amir was in Dahlia and Benji’s wedding. It was almost two and a half years ago.

It didn’t even occur to me that this would be the last time I’m going to see him. With me coming to visit NYC every now and then, and with him having family in Israel – I was sure we’ll meet again. No doubt.

We missed each other when I visited NYC last year and when he was in Israel last August. I later found out that he was trying to catch up with me on that visit.

I emailed him after his father had died to express my condolences, and in his response he apologized for not calling me when he was here for his father’s burial. He also said it is good hearing from me and wanted to know what is going on with my life. I found it remarkable that at such time he could think of me and not only of himself.

He wrote me some things about healing that now seem macabre.

In the past month I feel (again, macabre) much closer to Amir than I have felt in a while. Since he and the Lopatins are in my mind every day ever since…

I want to say something about the Lopatins. I strongly believe that a big portion of who we are is a result of the way we were brought up and the values we got from our family and our home.

Meeting the Lopatins recently just confirmed it. I can see why Amir was the way he was, where he got his uniqueness from.

I met Mrs.Lopatin, Uri and Shoshana when they were in Israel for Chag Sheni of Pesach, shortly after the accident. Even though I hardly knew them – it was very important for me to visit them while they were here. For me, it was the closest I could get to a shiva call.

I was so nervous before I went to see them. I mean, I’m going to visit a family at its hardest hour. I don’t really know them. What will I say? What possibly can I do or say to ease their pain? And so I went.

And I was so happy that I did. I met an amazing family, which I instantly felt a bond to. It didn’t feel weird to be there; on the contrary, they made me feel like they knew me, and we spoke about Amir. Uri and I started a discussion (of course…) about god, faith, and religion. Big questions. I wasn’t ‘ready’ for it but I loved it. It took us about 2 weeks to not finish it.

I saw the Lopatin family twice in that week. Spending some time with them brought back part of Amir to me. I felt thankful for the opportunity to meet this family.

And you know, I keep using the word family. Mishpacha. For me, as an only child – 3 is a family.

I’ve lately learned, in slightly similar circumstances, that close friends are family as well, not necessarily less than the real one. And from looking at Amir’s web site, watching the videos from his shloshim, and the short time I spent with you in Israel – I feel that you have a big family.

Shelo Ted-u Od Tza’ar.