This week I turned 43. But something else happened this week. My first cousin, Avigayil Poupko Rock, passed away after a difficult battle with cancer.

Avigayil was a woman of great intellect, and even greater sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others. She was pro women and pro living life the correct way. Her humor was an integral part of who she was and even in the most challenging of days it was in full bloom. Her death was a difficult and bitter pill to swallow. 

On my birthday I found it difficult to celebrate in the normal way. Instead I took my birthday as an opportunity to delve into my past and find at least one thing in each year of my life for which I feel grateful.

It was a very interesting journey. It dredged up memories that were buried under the years of day to day living. I needed to do a memory search to find something in each year of my life. The result? It brought up an abundance of gratefulness. Like kernels of popcorn – one popped up, followed by another, until it was just raining gratitude.

This exercise took my grief and turned it into an abundance of gratitude and understanding. So many times in my life I experienced episodes of uncertainty or difficulty and I didn’t know if it would end badly or if I would be hurt. Now, as I reexamined these episodes I saw how they shaped and formed the person I am today.

My father approached his only brother, Avigayil’s father, after the burial and said, “ Please don’t allow Avigayil’s passing take away your smile.”

More than a half century earlier, their grandfather had buried a son and his smile never reappeared. His brother answered, “ I hope it won’t. She would want me to be happy – to continue to smile. I need to live my life fully so that I can continue her legacy.”

Loss is a very difficult experience. I think Avigayil would want us to look into our lives and zoom in on the things that we can be grateful for. Check where we can improve; how can we live our life just a little bit better.

There are no guarantees in life. We don’t have a guarantee that we will be here tomorrow. I invite you in honor of Avigayil’s memory to examine your past, find those nuggets of positive moments. Focus on the grateful list, even in grief, even in sadness, even when times are tough.

Thank you to everyone who supported me through this difficult week. I appreciate it deeply. 

I want to invite you to join our community of spreading hope to the world and an attitude of gratitude.

Visit us on our website and share with us what you’re thinking.

Have a blessed and wonderful week.