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Brief candles, enduring lessons.

I know, it’s been a while since my last post. Mostly for good reasons…things, thank G-d, have been busy at Rosen Vein Care. Sometimes it’s tough to put words to page due to lack of time and opportunity. Other times, like now, it’s tough because the words don’t come easily.

It’s been a tough week for us at Team Rosen. In the midst of our Chanukah celebration, we mourn the tragic loss of a dear member of our family: my wife’s 1st cousin, David Ball (may his memory be a blessing).

Chanukah is a time that celebrates bringing light into darkness; a time to marvel at and publicise a miracle symbolizing perseverence despite adversity; a short span of warmth and joy at the start of (around here anyway) a long, cold winter. David, was kind of like Chanukah. I’ll explain, but a bit of background first.

David was born with a relatively rare condition called Prader-Willi Syndrome. Among the constellation of issues resulting from this syndrome, one of the more profound is the lack of satiety: the inability to feel full. Imagine the challenge of always feeling hungry…and I don’t mean peckish…I mean full-on

famished

…all the time. You could easily imagine that it would be so all-encompassing, so distracting that you could never get anything done.

Yet…yet…David, with the help and amazing support of his amazing family (more on them another day perhaps) just kept going and doing. Finished High School and College.
He enriched many lives along the way, including mine.

David lived in Georgia, and we in Chicagoland, so we didn’t see him as often as we would have liked. But I can tell you that, with rare exception, David was smiling. His face shone with joy…bursted with it. It was a good kind of infectious. He only had kind things to say about everyone. He brought light, warmth wherever he went. That, and a limitless supply of bear-hugs: a good kind of spine-crushing. David’s warmth and light was like Chanukah-year-round.

David kept pushing on. Fueled by his family’s love…but also by his love for them…and his pets…and Star Trek/Wars…and all-things-Disney…and interestingly a passsion/knack for solving online murder mystery games. He didn’t stop. He pushed on, persevered, excelled. Despite adversity and odds against him. David was an inspiration. People with Prader-Willi rarely achieve as much as David: educationally, socially and unfortunately in life-span. I can’t tell you if such thoughts ever preyed upon his mind, but I can say unequivocally that he was the most upbeat guy I have known. Like Dory from Finding Nemo would say, David would “Just keep swimming” (he’d appreciate that line, I think). That, like the message of Chanukah, was…is…David’s message to us all.

Recently, David’s health began to decline rapidly. Life became unbearably painful. He was bed-bound, required constant oxygen and increasingly more pain medication to feel comfortable. We learned of his untimely passing on Sunday morning: David succumbed peacefully in his sleep. Such a gentle, perfect soul…a

good neshama

as my people would say…deserved such an easy transition to the heaven that undoubtedly awaited him.

David’s life, though short, wasn’t a “brief candle”. In the original Chanukah miracle, the priests in the Holy Temple only had one vial of usaable oil for the Temple’s candelabra (menorah). Somehow, the oil managed to last beyond anyone’s expectations. David’s life was like Chanukah: each day we light an increasing number of candles…the brightness, warmth grows with time. David outlasted expectations in every way. His warmth of spirit, of personality grew brighter each year.

Yes, the Chanukah candles burn out on the 8th day. But think of it this way: the Chanukah miracle never really ended. There was a 9th day. A day which started by a priest relighting the menorah and continuing on with his mission, with OUR mission. Is lighting a fire…walking…breathing…any less miraculous each time we do it or is it just that we get accustomed to and ultimately unimpressed by the miracles? The warmth and light that David brought…he still brings every time anyone who ever met him thinks of him.

David’s life is an inspiration and a celebration. Rather than having the happiness of Chanukah somehow dampened by sorrow from our loss…and believe me, it’s your loss too…having to remain in a world lacking his gentle, beautiful life-force…rather than diminishing our joy, every Chanukah will afford an extra moment to appreciate David…to feel a trace of his warmth…and a muscle-memory of a bear-hug…every year.

This holiday season I wish you and your families joy, comfort, peace and good health. To be inspired by David Ball,z”l to live a life assuming the best in those around you; to have kind thoughts and words be the rule not the exception; to “just keep swimming”. To be insatiable in your capacity to care and to love.

-David Rosen,MD

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