December 31st is still a day I think about constantly. I know it is the last day of the year or the last time for you to think about what to expect for the new year. Sometimes people think about it for how to approach the New Year but the New Year has not been on my mind for the month of December or really at all. December 31st used to be just a day for me but now I think of it more than in the past. December 31st is the day my community lost a voice special to us but it was also the day I lost one of the best campers I ever knew.
On December 31, 2017, I started the day off the way most people usually do with waking up and thinking about what I needed to do this morning. I looked at my phone and noticed I had three texts and a missed call from one of my campers from Ramah. I knew right away that something was important but I just didn't know what. I checked social media to see several posts about one of my campers and the rest of his family being killed in a plane crash as they were returning from vacation.
I didn't know how to react to this. I was with my family but not my immediate family so I did not know how to explain it or how to word the situation. The only thing I could say was "Why?". Why did it have to be this family, why did the pilot think it was ok to take off, or why couldn't they have waited. I didn't know how to put into words what I was feeling or how to address this to my friends. Two of the sweetest people I had known had just passed away before the New Year began and I am not with my friends or campers to help comfort them.
It took me a week before I told my friends about what occurred and it took me a little longer for me to be able to put my thoughts into words. I didn't and my friends to hurt for me but I knew this pain wouldn't go away. One quote I remember hearing from a close friend was "That's what friends do, they take some of the hurtings from you and are here to help.". The first few weeks of the second semester of school were tough especially with so many people I knew going to the funeral while I couldn't. It was tough but it showed the impact of the Weiss family and how much people loved them.
This summer the campers I had known since they were 12 returned to camp for the last time as campers but without someone who was potentially viewed as the glue that held them together. Leading up to this summer many of my campers had mentioned how this summer was for Ari and while I wasn't at camp this summer I could not be any prouder of them. It is hard losing someone you love but seeing everyone band together, well that shows how much they are loved and missed. Ari was known by every camper in his age group and every counselor. There were even times I saw myself hang out with Ari more than some of the other staff members. Ari and Hannah were people you met once in a lifetime. They had so much good in them and were liked by everyone. However, that wasn't the reason why they are missed dearly. Ari and Hannah were always so supportive of the people around them and loved to make people smile, laugh and have fun. That is what made them so special. When people ask about these two siblings and their parents there is nothing but kind words that are said. This past year I have about Ari, Hannah and their parents a lot and the impact they created. It can't be doubled or repeated but I know their legacy will not be forgotten.