Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Eulogy

I need to be quite honest….when asked who will speak today I did not hesitate for a single moment. And then I sat down to write. And I had nothing. Nothing. After 10 months of pouring my heart out in 108 posts on the blog, I had nothing to say. What could I say? And more so, how could I say anything, for to say something would mean accepting the truth. This horrible, nightmarish, heartbreaking truth – that my Brandon, the love of my life, my bashert, was gone forever. And with him, my heart.

I have been to funerals before and heard people speak about the great person that the individual was, about how much they were loved – but that just seems redundant. Redundant because of the 1000’s of hits our blog has received, redundant because of the hundreds of emails, posts, and facebook messages that have been circulating on the Internet, redundant because of all of you who are here today. SO many people loved Brandon – we have heard from colleagues, school friends, teachers, hockey buddies. We have heard from friends around the world. We have heard from fans who were lucky enough to have seen him play and we have heard from other families afflicted by this horrible disease. We have heard from friends of friends and we have heard from strangers. Even ABC News in Pensacola where he played hockey had a segment about him on Monday night.

I have read all the messages, all the posts and I have realized something – you are not here because of how special Brandon was, you are here, and people are mourning all around the world, because of how special Brandon made YOU feel. And that was his greatest gift – whether you were a close friend, an acquaintance, a fan, a neighbor or a stranger – when Brandon focused on you, you knew he was focused, and he cared – whether he advised you, guided you, chatted with you or simply smiled at you – at that moment he made you feel special.

And I was the luckiest recipient of this gift. Not a single day went by without him explicitly telling me he loved me. Not a single day went by where he did not turn to me to tell me I was beautiful – even today, like this, he would have said that to me. I knew I was his priority no matter what. He was taking care of me always.

And our children, our beautiful Dana and Koby – they know without a doubt how much daddy loved them. The second he walked into the room, the second they heard his footsteps coming down the stairs, their faces would light up for daddy. And his face would show that same adoration in return – always. “I love my family” is what we heard every day. My children lost the most this week, they lost the best parent possible, they lost the ability to know just how special Brandon was, and how special they could feel with him.

Brandon’s death is wrong. I know this from the core of my being. I know it from all of you. This is wrong! My next speech about Brandon was supposed to be on our 10th anniversary, when we had planned to renew our vows, not today, on this horrible day!!

You each have your own cherished memories of Brandon. Some of you have shared those stories and some have chosen to hang on to yours. I have 6 years of memories, each one touches my heart – and so what can I share today? And then I decided – the final blog post of “Cancer – Our Fairytale.”

And here it is:
On Saturday morning the phone rang at 7:30am and my heart skipped a beat. Nothing good can come from a call this early on a Saturday. It was Brandon’s mom. Brandon had suffered a seizure and the hospital called to come in right away. And I ran…literally. I balled the entire way to the hospital. Please no, please let this be nothing, please no. When I got to the hospital I was so scared to get in the elevator. Part of me wanted so badly to run the other way. I got to his room and ICU was there checking his vitals, prepping to take him for a CT scan. And there was Brandon, my love, with his eyes rolled back and his body limp. And I lost it. We rushed him to CT and our friend Leslie, who is a doctor, walked in with the technician to read the scan. He came out and told us that there was a large mass. He did not have to say anymore.

The Drs gathered us in a room to talk. They could run an MRI but the outcome would not change. It was time to just make sure that Brandon was comfortable. How long? How long would we still have with him? There was no way to tell – it could be days.
And so, from 9am Saturday morning, until 1pm Monday afternoon, his mom and I did not leave his side. I lay down on the bed beside my love. I held his hand, I pulled his arm around me, I spooned with him, I stroked his hair and face, and I told him I loved him a thousand times. I slept better than I had in the previous 2 months, 2 months without Brandon by my side. This is where I belonged – next to him…hearing him breath, feeling him beside me. People came in, people left, but I never left my spot on his chest, MY spot since we have been together.

His mom sat by the bed during that same time, held his other hand, kissed his forehead, sang him lullabies, wet his lips to keep them from drying out and cooled his head with damp clothes.

As the hours passed Brandon’s breathing became more and more difficult. He was suffering now. We told him it was ok to go.

At around 10:30am the Dr came in and told us we may still have another 24 hours of this. Arlene and I looked at each other – we needed to tell all our family outside that it could be a while. Arlene decided she would go. After 2 days of sitting by his bed, she would leave for 3 minutes to walk down the hall.

And then Brandon, my prince, gave us both his final gift. As I lay looking up at him, with the 2 of us alone in the room, there was suddenly a change. All of a sudden his eyes, which had been glazed over for days came into complete focus, their blue colour returned. And he looked at me…really looked at me. “Are you looking at me? I love you” I yelled. And then he smiled, Brandon, in a coma for 2 days, smiled. And then he died.

And that is the essence of Brandon – even with his final breath, he spared his mom the horror of the moment and he saved one last memory and smile for me. What a gift!

When I started this fairytale 10 months ago this ending was not an option. Throughout this entire struggle this outcome was not an option. It was supposed to end with “happily ever after”. It didn’t. But our love is forever after. And my dear Brandon, who wanted to live more than anything – for me, for his daughter Dana and for our baby Koby, made sure that he showed me that love until the very end. As I said, I have never, for a single second, ever doubted how much Brandon loved me, nor have I ever questioned my love for him.

But this last moment…. Thank you my love - for Every moment, for our 2 beautiful children, for loving me and allowing me to love you.

This fairytale will not close with the words “the end” for this does not end…

I love you so much Brandon, with my whole heart, and I will love you forever.


  1. Taly-
    Thank you for sharing this. I wish the outcome had been a happy ending, but I am grateful that you got your last special moment with your love.


  2. Crying. Sobbing. Heart hurts! So not fair! So not right! You are a hero to us all. Your strength is amazing!! xo beautiful

  3. please keep writing. this was beautiful. we all think about you daily and check the blog, your strength is inspiring.

  4. You are the Jackie Kennedy of this century! With your strength and courage and emotional struggle to try to make this right, Brandon is with you and your beautiful children and everyone forever. Love and hugs..Merle & Rickey

  5. Taly, as your sister, this is the hardest thing for me to watch .... you sitting shiva, you losing your love of your life, and you feeling all this pain. The love that all your friends and family have shown you, I hope can help you during your rough times. Life has forever changed but your love for Brandon will never change. We will share endless stories of Brandon to the kids as they grow up so that they will feel as if they know him....just as we did. They will be so honoured to know that Brandon was THEIR dad! I love you. Your sis,

  6. Thank-you for sharing your story with complete strangers. I for one, can tell you, that it has touched my heart and I will never forget it. I truly believe that he will always be with you in spirit and that knowing this, it will bring you strength. He will want you to live life to the fullest, and while you may not physically see him, he will always be there - whether it is through your daughter's laugh, or your son's smile, you will know, that he is there watching over you and your children and protecting you. I wish you strength during this difficult time and thank-you again for sharing your story.

  7. Darling Taly,

    We have shared your sorrow and we send our love.

    All our days are numbered but the quality of life can be expansive or contracted. Brandon lived so fully that he crammed a lifetime of love and fulfillment into a relatively short time-span. Still, his premature passing seems senseless. You and the kids are his greatest gift.

    Together, we re-gather the torn pieces and gradually we re-join the world and try to live our own lives to the fullest.

    When a loved one passes, I am always reminded of the poetry of Leonard Cohen:

    "So come, my friends, be not afraid.
    We are so lightly here.
    It is in love that we are made;
    In love we disappear."

    Much love to you and the kids,

    Phil Dani Zavi and Joelle

  8. Taly,
    Beautiful words, from the heart. We are so sorry for your and Dana , and Koby's loss. You are all in our thoughts and prayers, as you have been throughout these difficult times. Although we only met Brandon two or three times, he was a friend fromt he get go. It was fun talking hockey with him. I am sorry I never had a chnce to take him to a Michigan Hockey game in Ann Arbor, I know we would have had fun.
    Paul and Leah

  9. Thank you for sharing this; every time that I have read this I just cry. I always think of Brandon's curly blonde hair that all the girls loved down here in Pensacola... All of our thoughts are with you - you are a very strong person and you have shown this going through everything that you have. Stay strong for those babies, those beautiful babies which I know you will as you have all this time!

  10. Just yesterday, a girl of 27 who went to Vaughan Secondary School passed away of cancer. I'm 26, I didn't know her personally but our facebook pages tended to suggest many mutual friends. I was touched by the outpouring of the Jewish community we have here in Toronto that raised funds to send her to Israel for a risky medical transplant but most of all, at 26 or 27 or 35 or 60, the pain of losing some you love is devastating and growing up means knowing that life is not invincible but special.
    I shared this story with my Hebrew teacher today who suggested I read the eulogy for Brandon. I am happy that you did what you did with this blog and hope that you will find peace. The following words come to mind - "To the world, he was just one person. To me, he was the world".

    I am sorry for your loss.


  11. Ugh, this is just *heartbreaking*... saw you on Life Story Project and just googled you. I so wish this wasn't yours to deal with. And he was absolutely gorgeous. When I heard you speak, you reminded me of me, and how I feel about my Michael. But I have my love, and yours isn't here. I just can't even imagine it. Life is so fucking unfair. I'm so sorry. I wish I could change this ever happening.