My Optimism Teacher

Jordan April 6th, 1976 - December 10th, 2010

Jordan
April 6th, 1976 – December 10th, 2010

A lot of people judge a meal’s quality by the portion size and amount of food on their plate. By the same token friendships are often measured by their duration or how often friends get to see one another. I believe that friendship comes in different shapes and sizes. Jordan’s the proof. True, Jordan and I were friends for half of our lives, but we’ve lived in different countries and have only met each other twice. But the depth of our friendship can measure up against any of my strongest relationships. He was one of the most dependable friends I’ve had. Although we’ve never talked about our definition of friendship, I know that we shared the same perception on what friends do for each other. It’s simple. You’re always there. And being there doesn’t necessarily mean sharing the same space.

How do you maintain a friendship with a friend you so rarely get to see? Jordan and I have “met” as teenagers in the 90’s through a British tv show on Super Channel, which was broadcasted Europe wide. I was in Israel, Jordan in Greece. We both wrote in seeking pen pals. Those were the days when New Kids on the Block reigned every arena and if you were called Jordan, you lucked out. And Jordan did. Most deservingly. I think he broke a show record with the amount of letters he got, but quite frankly the lucky ones were us, those who became his pen pals. Jordan and I started corresponding. His warmth and openness flowed through the curvy letters of the black ink. He always signed his letters with “all my love”.

Out of all the pen pals I had, he was the only one who materialized into an actual person first through letters, then through phone calls, text messages, two in person meetings and finally Facebook. I knew who Jordan was as a person and as a friend. Happy Jordan, fun loving, food appreciating Jordan, insightful, empathetic Jordan, philosophical, truth seeking, believer Jordan, endlessly kind, supportive, optimistic Jordan. Artistic, Madonna and Eurovision song contest lover. Tel-Aviv lover. Loving person Jordan.

When someone’s life ends we often choose to focus on one brush stroke in their portrait, magnify it and make it their only trait. Their definer. I am no different. When I think of Jordan I cannot block out the thought about cancer but just as strongly  thoughts of optimism and unconditional support rise. Yes, he was ill in the last few years of his life, but mistake me not, the unconditional support I’m referring to came from him.

Jordan was always optimistic, but it was especially apparent in the last years of his life when he was the epitome of lemonade making in a reality of lemons. When cancer kept striking over and over again and Jordan, determined to stay true to what defined him as a person, called his chemotherapy sessions “my spa day”. But his sentence that shames me most when I dare sweat the small stuff is a sentence he posted on his Facebook wall in the midst of his last battle. It read “life is a playground not a Greek tragedy”. Jordan was an optimist by conviction, and a thinker who questioned everything out of curiosity and a pursuit of truth and learning. And he had the rare gift of empathy. He knew exactly what to tell you and how to make you feel good about a situation, no matter how trivial or how insignificant in the grand scheme of things and in comparison to what he was going through, no matter how bad he was feeling that day. Because walking in the shoes of others did not pose a challenge for him and did not require an effort, he was a soul reader. Jordan reinforced in me what I already knew. It’s much more noble to be happy.

When he died two years ago I initially did not allow myself any negative thoughts. It was my way of honouring him and what he stood for. Gradually my forced optimism faded, but I cling on to happiness, sometimes frustratedly, sometimes academically – reading articles and highlighting paragraphs, sometimes with the assistance of other people, and always through gratefulness and always keeping him in mind. He’s become synonymous with optimism. Optimism teacher Jordan.

My brave optimism teacher, my true friend, Jordan, life is not a Greek tragedy, but some things that happen in life are. Today marks three years that you're not with us.

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