|Ayelet Galena, of blessed memory|
For the past year, tens of thousands of people followed the updates of baby Ayelet Galena as she fought a rare bone-marrow disorder. On a physical level, it was hard to imagine that the bloated and sickly dark-haired toddler was only months before the picture-perfect, blonde-haired, Gerber-looking baby. We waited for her parents to post updates, as we prayed for Ayelet to be healed from this horrific illness which plagued her small body.
And then, just one month ago, that heartbreaking post appeared:
With unstoppable tears and broken hearts we regret to announce that last night around 5AM, after hours of fighting and holding on, our precious Ayelet—the heart of our world, the light and strength for so many, could not fight any more.
She is gone.
When Seth spoke at his daughter’s funeral, he said something that shook me to my coreShe put up a serious fight, but her lungs collapsed, her blood pressure dropped and the blood could not get to her huge heart.
Baruch Dayan Emes. Her life, her strength, a blessing to so many.
The family posted the audio from her funeral, which was attended not only by family and friends, but by hundreds who felt connected to Ayelet and her family, even though they had never even met. They came because in following her story they became part of that extended family who thought, prayed and cared about Ayelet, and who gained inspiration and life lessons from her parents. And in return, her parents received much support and encouragement from all those anonymous readers.
Like so many, I had never met Seth or Hindy, although I did spend quite a few Shabbat meals with Seth’s mother, who lived in our neighborhood until recently. Their family was no stranger to tragedy. Just a few years earlier, her beloved husband, Seth’s father, was hit by a car as he jogged in our neighborhood. This dedicated and respected doctor, marathon runner and triathlon competitor, was in the best of health. And yet, in a split second his life was taken.
When Seth spoke at his daughter’s funeral, he said something that shook me to my core. Through tears of pain and tears of joy, he spoke about his precious Ayelet, and the eternal love he has for her and strength he gained from her.
He mentioned the teaching from the commentaries that Adam, the first human created, was shown the life of King David. He was told that this man had such potential and such ability, but would not be able to come into this world. Adam saw what David could accomplish, and begged G‑d to take years off of his life and give them to King David instead. And so, the seventy years that King David lived, in which he accomplished so much, were years deducted from the life of Adam.
Her story motivated so many to swab as potential donors of bone marrow,Seth remarked how he felt that his own father must have begged G‑d to do the same with his daughter. That he believed that his father allowed his life to end so early in order to allow his beautiful Ayelet to come into this world for her short time. She lived for only two years, but during that time she accomplished more than many do in a lifetime. Not only did she touch the lives of literally tens of thousands who knew her story, but her story motivated so many to swab as potential donors of bone marrow, something that will undoubtedly continue to save lives, specifically because of Ayelet, who lost her own.
If a sick little two-year-old who couldn’t walk could save lives, how much more so each and every one of us, with all the talents and abilities that have been bestowed upon us. More days than I would like to admit, I trudge through, wondering if I am accomplishing anything at all, and feeling useless. I think we all go through it to varying degrees.
But not until I heard Seth eulogize his baby did it occur to me that maybe, just maybe, some ancestor of mine, someone in my past, begged for me to come into this world. Saw what I was capable of, what I could accomplish, and asked our Creator to give me my life, to give me years, in place of maybe what could have been. I will never know. None of us ever will. But it is possible.
I am actually named after my grandmother, Sara Esther, whom I never met. She passed away suddenly when my mother was pregnant with me. My mother had not yet had a chance to tell her mother that she was pregnant. So Sara Esther passed without knowing about me at all. Her yahrtzeit was recently, the 18th of the month of Shevat, the “life” of the month of Shevat. The same month during which Ayelet passed.
But after hearing Seth’s powerful words, I wonder . . . Maybe my grandmother did know about me. Maybe she had something to do with why I am here. She was a strong, loving, giving and caring woman, who left a huge void with her absence. Without warning, from a sudden and unstoppable medical condition, she was taken from this world. But maybe, just maybe, she gave me time I didn’t even realize I was gifted. I will never know. But I do know I am her namesake, and there is a reason I am here. And any day I wonder why that is, I’d better come up with something good for an answer.
And as the Galena family mourns the loss of their beloved Ayelet, may they be comforted through knowing that Ayelet’s short life has impacted so many, and her memory and message will live on in us all.
(The pictures below are of Ayelet month-to-month throughout her two precious years.)
Hamokom yenachem Eschem bitoich avalei tzion vi yerushalaim (may G-d comfort you amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem...)
We must learn from this beautiful little girl. She taught us that no matter the length of our time in this world, we must strive to make a positive impact. Ayelet wasted no time in improving this world in her 2 years. Those of us who have more time have no excuse.
Brooklyn, New York
in my heart this story awaken the will to console the hearts that are broken.
to have a child I thought was the meaning of life,
and to be a wife
but it is a sacrifice when nobody are nice.
The good i expected was not in my life and , i was not wise.
years later I found my lost faith
the Creator of heaven and earth.
he filled my sad soul with light after the hard fight
many things do not seem to be right
in our sight
I hope love and peace will never decrease
Mesa, Arizona, USA