By Rabbi Ron Shulman
We cry with Ian's loving and devoted family. We are upset and grief stricken with them. With torn hearts and profound sorrow, we gather together.
Ian's presence fills this room with the love and courageous spirit all of us admire about him. Our presence fills this room because, from no on, it must always be this way.
We will be present to you Marci, Brian, and Becca, Sheila and Ron, Sharon and Herb, Susan, David, Eric, Michael, Mackenzie, Josh, Devin, Kirsten, Noah and Hayden so that you will discover, as you need it, the support and comfort all of us can offer you. We are with you as your extended family and the friends Ian touched in the days and experiences of his compelling life. Ian drew us all to him. He brought us together and now holds us close.
Embrace each other in love and with strength because here we all know the delicate nature of being human. We are each exposed and vulnerable in life. Being human is precious and precarious. Through one another we feel G-d's comfort as we extend our comfort and compassion.
Like Spiderman Ian was a superhero. Except Ian was the real deal, our genuine hero whose zest for life and infectious smile inspired us. Spiderman's creators gave him "spider-sense." The ability to react quickly to the world around him and to overcome obstacles.
G-d endowed Ian with "Ian-sense." The ability to react quickly to us all as to life with his sense of humor, his courage and tenacity, and above all with his love to overcome obstacles.
"Who is a hero?" asks Ben Zoma, a first century rabbi. "Ben Zoma answers by quoting from Proverbs. "A person who governs his own spirit" is a hero. Ian is a superhero because he taught all of us about personal strength and character. He helped us to be patient and kind. He brought us to a deeper appreciation of compassion and understanding. Ian's life taught us all about life. We are heroes when we live to the best our abilities in response to every challenge and opportunity.
On different occasions Ian would ask about his circumstance. In every conversation or relayed message, Ian grew to recognize that life is about love and connection. Life is about courage and perseverance. Life is about embracing the gift of who we each are no ands, ifs, or buts. Ian's life made a lasting impression, Ian's life exceeded his own hopeful expectations. He was a bit stubborn that way. Ian was a boy who lived on his terms and not by the limitations nature imposed on him.
Before his Bat Mitzvah celebration I asked Ian to describe himself to me. He said he was funny and caring, and had a big smile. I told him he was also brave and very cool. At his Bar Mitzvah, I told Ian: You are G-d's precious and special gift to your family and us all. Your smile and good nature let us know how kind and fun you are, how sensitive and sweet you are, how precious and special you are. You are more a superhero than anyone else! You take every opportunity you can, and you succeed because you are so determined and brave." In his eyes, I saw Ian's approval that he became who he wanted to be.
Becca, at that same moment, as you became a Bat Mitzvah I reminded you that you have grown to be a sweet and caring young woman, someone who is friendly, creative, and busy. Because you balance your sensitivity for Ian with your own self-confidence, you were your brother's partner. Everything good we say about him you helped him to become. You are precious and pure and grateful for your family. All of us here believe you always will be.
Like Becca, Ian is, as he was, precious and pure. Blessed with a feeling soul and gentle heart, what we might describe as an old soul, Ian lived a meaningful inner life for a young person. That's how he helped his family, friends, teachers, and caregivers help and support him. In our profound sadness today, we are grateful to everyone whose care of and love for Ian enabled the fullness and goodness of his life.
Marci and Brian, you are also superheroes. Your gracious, generous, and unconditional love gave Ian and Becca every precious hope and opportunity. It's no wonder Ian's spirit was so vibrant. He's your son. He inherited and demonstrated your joy for life and your ability to love so openly, compassionately, and honestly.
Even in your unbearable sorrow today, Marci and Brian, I pray you will come to remember with pride and joy the quality and intensity of the life you enabled Ian to have and to enjoy. Beside you and sustaining you in this task, as always, will be your loving families and the rest of your extended family who with all of us your friends embrace you and carry you through the burden of your, and our, sorrow.
As Ian's life demonstrates, we stand humble and vulnerable before the risks and frailties of life. That's why we need to sustain and support each other every day. Over time we may imagine what Ian might have experienced in the days and years to come. Ian's entire family most certainly wishes to know. Remember that Ian's bright, smiley face and love of life remain far more important then what we all feel at this sad moment. The wonder and goodness of his life will always be a part of your own - and all of us will help this to be so.
Today we call upon love in the face of life's mystery and this tragedy. We look for the light of day that it not hide from us during the darkness of this difficult night. We look for hope amidst our despair. We cherish the days that were Ian's. They are all a compelling source of strength and significance, of joy and happiness. Even wanting so many more, be grateful for every day you shared with Ian.
Ian gave you a gift. More years and time than at first imagined. Deeper love and joy than at first appreciated. More enduring memories and experiences than at first expected. Believe with me. The courage, love and goodness of Ian's life will live on in the hearts of his parents, his sister, his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, family members and friends. Through our sorrow and our bonds we will discover the same resilience and blessings of G-d that Ian knew.
G-d endowed Ian with "Ian-sense." The ability to live with his sense of humor, is courage and tenacity, and above all with his love to overcome obstacles. Like Spiderman Ian was a superhero. Except Ian was the real deal, our genuine hero whose zest for life and infections smile will always inspire us.