My void is bigger than your void!

Here’s (some of) what wikipedia has to say (or at least had to say at the time I write this, because I may change it)

Dictionary.com has 18 meanings. Here are a few I chose

  • useless; ineffectual; vain.
  • devoid; destitute (usually fol. by of ): a life void of meaning.
  • without contents; empty.
  • something experienced as a loss or privation

So void is a nothing. So how can ‘nothing’ have size? I am not a big man, but I feel like the void inside of me is huge, that it can fill Camp Nuo. How can nothing, fill something so big, whilst living inside of me?! And how come it takes space?!

Today it is a month since Amir was killed. Definitely the worst month of my life. Heck, in a second, 2010 turned from a good/ok year to shit.

Handling the pain is something I deal with by turning it into positive energy. Trying to think of Amir as a motivation, as a driver. Many times as I ride home and climb that hill – I think of how Amir could’ve outlasted me, so I try and compete with him. Some older brother envy, for the first time.

Today is the hardest day since we’ve come back home to London. Haringey council got off their back sides and finally fixed the school thing for the kids and we’re settling into a routine. But today I just can’t escape the pain, can’t control it, can’t push it in the directions I want. I just cry.

Climbing into Muswell Hill is not easy – she is a tough mistress to tame. But whilst crying and feeling empty it is even harder.

I feel like this blog, though I never write too often, may take a dark turn and become a wailing wall. I don’t want that. I want to write happy things. But happy doesn’t get much air-time these days.

It is also interesting how this impacts, or doesn’t, our boys. #1 who is 9 understands this the best. He has really grown in an instant. We could see immediately that his approach to his younger brothers has changed. That he has grown. And today as I cried in my room he came and hugged me. He had the perfect medicine. A 9 year old. What a boy! The others are too young to understand or know what this means.

We’ve put a picture of Amir in our living room. The one from the post about his death. It is my favourite, along with a picture from when he was 3. #4 goes to the picture and says ‘Ameer’. It is funny how he absorbed that! He never met Amir, only ‘spoke’ to him on skype a few times.

I think I need to write more on my blog. More on how I feel and more about happier things.

Igenson and I, Livigno 2003

Igenson, #2 and I, Livigno 2003

A very long day

What day is it? Still feels like Monday. Though I either slept or taken naps, and the calendar tells me it is Thursday.
I hear Amir mocking my stupid attempts at poetry. Though I am quite proud of them.

Is it a dream? Is it real? I know it is real. I know I’ll never see him. Though there’s the little hope it is a nightmare we’ll all wake up from.
Edo is ill today with high fever. That can’t be a dream. But this whole surreal reality can’t be, either.
I think I’ll try to take another few cracks at being a poet. After all the effort I’ve put into this stupid haircut. I know Amir is laughing at this.

Your light

When your light
Was cut
I saw how much
Of it is burning inside
many

Good night, sweet prince

Amir Abramovich, Sep 1980 - Dec 2010

What can you say when you cry? When your whole world gets torn apart with a single phone call? When one of the people you love most is killed in an accident. And how is it an accident that my brother is now dead?

My little brother, my beloved brother was killed today, riding his motorcycle.

Just as I arrived at work I got a call from my dad back home. He had terrible news, he said. I though something happened to mum, or to my aunt. But the devastating news was that my brother was killed just a few hours earlier.

And your life will never be the same again.

A few words about Amir, and the sort of person he was.

A Phd student for biology, with an scholarship few get. Yes, he was smart. No, he was smarter. He just started his MBA. But he was much smarter. So smart, and funny and good hearted that no university degree can be given for that. A golden boy who lived his life his own way. He knew what he wanted, and he did just that. Sometimes he made me mad. Furious. He seemed to live, sometimes, in a bubble.

Yet, he was as down to earth as they come. He rode his motorbike, and he did it carefully. Because he was very cautious. He always thought before he did things. A very conscientious guy. He turned vegetarian at the age of 8, once he understood where the chicken on his plate came from. He continued with this when he went to the Army. He joined a supporting team rather than a combat one. As he understood the importance of being part of the national army, of contributing his dues to society.

In the lab, as a researcher he avoided anything that involved animals. I recall taking to him about it, and his problem with even conducting experiments with mice embryos. He wouldn’t of-course.

Amir was my riding partner when he lived with our parents, and I lived in Israel. As my younger brother he had to outlast me on the up-hills. Regardless of how out-of-shape he was – he’d push on until I stopped, and then continued for just a few yards, just to prove the point. He outlasted his older brother. Being the stupid one, I’d get away from him on the down-hills.

Amir knew everything. I consider myself one with great knowledge and amazing beauty. Yet he took that, and raised that further. Even his English was better, spelling wise.

As the young one, he was the most-protected by our parents. My sister was put to the best of what soviet/spartan upbringing had. I had a good taste of that, but to a lesser extent. Hence she will survive zero degrees water, eat through camel fur and climb a mountain using her teeth. Amir? Amir was gentle. When he helped me move house, because of course he would, he washed his hands 1000 times. He took plenty of showers just to rinse himself of the sweat he endured.

When I fell in-love with running, I tried to get him to run too. Initially he objected, but after a few beers more he realised the benefits and started to run. I was eager to run with him. Because I knew that though I’d be in a better shape that he’ll beat me, and it would a joy to chat. Because you could always talk to him. He was a great listener.

 

The picture is taken on a ski trip he took with my parents, sister and her family. I couldn’t join with mine. Snowboarding was his thing. He taught me to snowboard. “Here Az, don’t go on the flat – you need a bit of downhill to learn”. And promptly pointed me in the direction of a proper slope, with ice. One broken rib later I was a snowboarder, and went to the big mountain. Where again he pointed me at the right directions. Downwards. Three days – and I was a snowboarder. Who promptly hit his elbow, cracked two more ribs on the other side, and went back to skiing.

Somehow Amir discovered his courage on that mountain. It was like he’s changed. He jumped with his board and did all sorts. Including one really stupidly huge jump. It was like we traded places for a bit.

On the last day we came to a place on the mountain that we’ve recognized. A place we noted a few days earlier as a little jump. Basically a terrace. We remembered it, and we remembered the shape of the slope. So Amir went first. I was a long way back, and was a bit surprised to see him jump, and disappear. After a while I guessed it was the fog and I just went for it. This being a terrace, it wasn’t uniform. First time we saw it, it was about 50cm high. But this time we’ve hit it a few hundred meters up. It was 3m high. As I was falling down, into the inevitable crash, I spotted my younger brother laughing. We both laughed. I asked him why didn’t he warn me. “To miss this? you’re nuts”.  By-standers couldn’t understand the two idiots who have just crash landed, yet laugh.

We were a close bunch. Getting closer as the years went by, as there are almost nine years between us. Our parents took their sweet time. But boy, was it worth it!

Goodbye my younger brother. Nothing will fill in the void. But the many many friends you had will never forget you. I will take this pain with me to my grave, with the only consolation that you didn’t suffer, when that lady hit you from behind, because you were too careful and wouldn’t speed like the rest of them.

Good night sweet prince!

I don’t want to say goodbye, but soon tomorrow will arrive, and we’ll board the plane, the whole family and fly to Israel. Not to visit you, but to put you in the ground, where I wouldn’t be able to laugh at your receding hairline, or the fact I am taller (and fatter) than you.

It is so wrong.

I miss you so much, though we only spoke yesterday.

Fool on a hill

Somehow I always end up having perfect protection from flooding. I always end up living on a hill.

It is not like I plan this. It just happens.

Before coming to the UK I lived at a top of a hill for all my life. This made coming back from a long bike ride kill any option of cool down. At times I was taking extra rounds around the block to allow myself to cool off.

Now in Wales I again ended up on a hill. Coming back from work I have several options – short 14% climb, slightly longer easy climb with a little sting in the tail. There’s even a direction where the climb is so gentle that it is almost flat, 3 mile long, but flat.

So going to London I knew one thing for sure. London is flat. To some extent that saddened me.  But then the property search began.

I used the best technology has to offer – rightmove.com and findaproperty.com to hunt. I lined up three properties – two in west London (Ealing and Acton) and one in north London – Muswell Hill. Looking at pictures and schools around the properties I had a clear favourite – the house on the hill.

How steep could a London hill be? After all – London’s flat. Right?!

Well, it is. Except Muswell hill is aptly named. It is a proper hill. Not a three yard dash.

If all goes well – within the next few days the contract would be signed and I’ll be pushing forward with moving everything to London.

Schools would be a chore to arrange. They are already. More on that – soon.

The apples fell quite close

Last Sunday we went on a 2Km run.

When I say we, I mean my two eldest boys and myself, aka #1 and #2. It was part of the Cardiff 10k run, and my eldest son has been talking about doing it, ever since I’ve done the Cardiff 10k and he saw kids participate in the 2km run.

And when I say 2km I really mean 1.4k. Unfortunately they’ve shortened the course to 1.4km due to some constraints.

It has not made much difference, though. The atmosphere was great, as always in such events. And this being a family event, made it even better. My eldest was actually training for this. Running around the square in front of our house in the past weeks.

But somehow, I am still not sure why, #2 said he’d run with us just the night before.

So, there I was on the starting line, with 9 and 7 year old boys. Going for a run.

10 minutes later it was over. ‘Pipsqueek’ to quote #1.

And this what makes me wonder…. “pipsqueek”? Is this a sign that he has better genes than I? Is this a sign I have been living far too long in the UK, as “pipsqueek” actually made sense to me?

This run also gave me another opportunity to evaluate how my kids run, style wise of course. And I am glad to report that #2’s running style has remained as erratic as before. One might argue that it is even more.

As we set off his arms and legs were going in all directions. At one point I was afraid he’s going to knock another child out. As he got a bit more tired he became a bit more streamlined, but just a bit. And during the sprint to the line, a matter of about 200m, he managed to kick himself in the backside quite a few times.

I remember myself and my brother running at the age of 7. It was always very efficient. Slow, but efficient. And #1 is just like that. But #2… he is out of this world. He changes direction for no good reason. Just suddenly goes sideways. I reckon he added at least two or maybe even three miles to the distance of the run.

July, the hottest month of the year 1

July is always hot. That is due to the Tour De France. Well, at least for me. But more on this later

This year July is made hotter. actually once every four years. This due to a world-wide virus of World Cup Fever. And boy is this one a hottie!

World Cup

Major teams exiting early – Italy, France. Some fresh faces staying up late – Japan, Paraguay and Spain. And some of the usual suspects – Brazil, Argentina and Germany.

Of the last four I mentioned only Germany were not considered pre-games favourites. Maybe it is the young squad, or maybe it is quite obvious they are a force to be reckoned with, so no one mentioned them.

England were the usual victim of German football. A country that brought us the most boring football for years, is now providing us with exciting beautiful football. And not a single mullet.

I was never a fan of England. South American is my flavour and Brazil was always the number one choice for me. Corny? Maybe. Two things you don’t choose in life – family and a team you support. My father supports Brazil. But England was never a favourite. Actually, I quite disliked them for years.

Living in Wales should, some would argue, make me either support the only British team or hate them because they are not Welsh. But to me, a bloody foreigner it is not a factor. I simply never liked the English team.

But I do want to say a few words about them.

Capello – is a world-class coach. If there is a mistake the English FA kept making is swapping managers like dirty underwear. How can a coach can learn from his mistakes if he is shown the door after the first? England left South Africa a single game earlier than expected. They were expected to reach the quarter-final and lose to Germany. They just did not prolong their suffering and left at the last 16.

The team was awful. Gerrard and Lampard had what could only be described as ok seasons, by their own standards. Rooney was a shadow of himself. Clearly depleted by Sir Alex. Heskey is a player fit for a League 2 bench. Even I have better skill on the ball than him. Even I.

And this is the only real mistake Capello, in my very humble opinion made – he took Heskey and some other fishy players. Taking Jermaine Beckford would have made more sense. He is a young rising talent. Maybe he wouldn’t be the best at these games, but the experience would’ve been extremely valuable. And what about Walcott? Not great season, but definitely better than Heskey!

And if I knew anything about English football I guess I could name a dozen younger players that would’ve made better choices.

So why? I bet the FA put pressure on him. And if they didn’t? Well, he learnt his lesson. The only question is will the FA let him stay and apply his new-found knowledge.