There are people in your life that make indelible imprints on you. There are those that come and go. And, there are those special people in your life that you lose touch with...and fate/B'sheret brings them back into your life. This post is about one of these people. I vividly remember when I met Angela Gold.
I attended many conventions in high school and college. These were usually for "future Jewish educators." Of course, many of us expected we would be rabbis, cantors or "Professional Jews." These conventions were really just an excuse to renew friendships or make new ones. Yes, there were educational and religious aspects of these conventions. However, it was about the relationships made - with other participants AND with the educators.
There were a group of us - maybe 5 or 6 - that always "hung out." We just naturally were drawn to each other. Perhaps we had similar senses of humor...who knows? What mattered to us was that we had a connection - a bond. One of those people - Jason Schnee - introduced me to my wife (we met at his wedding). Until I reconnected with Angela in 2011, at the URJ Biennial, Jason was the only person from that special group of friends that I stayed in contact with.
At the Biennial in Washington, DC, I saw Angela from across the hotel lobby. It was as if no time had passed. At least 10 years had passed since we saw each other last...however, our friendship was rekindled and it was as strong as it ever was. One late night at the Biennial, Angela told me some very private news - she had a brain tumor, an operation and was in recovery. I didn't believe her at first - she was so young...
Since that night in 2011, I have made sure to include Angela as a part of my family - she and my wife became friends. At the Biennial in Orlando, when Danika turned 1, we included Angela in our family celebration. She is family...she always will be. Angela has a smile that stretches from one end of the room to the other - it is completely contagious and her laugh is just as wonderful. Since 2011, Angela and I have seen each other 3 times...and each time I have been reminded of how special she is and why I am so blessed to be one of her friends.
When she first spoke with me regarding her illness/recovery, she made it very clear that her name was NOT to be added to my congregation's Mi Shebeirach list. She did not want her brain tumor and subsequent surgeries/recoveries to a) define who she is or b) dominate her conversations or relationships. I could tell that if I even mentioned it to her, she was not pleased. She wanted to talk about what was going on in our lives (positive) and the future. She has always been someone who looks forward rather than back...
As a rabbi, I find it a blessing to be with people in their most vulnerable of times - often when a family member is sick or at the end of his/her life. This is painful for the family, their communities and yes, even for me. However, when it is someone that I have known for many years of my life, it hurts much more. I find some comfort in writing and sharing my feelings with others. Just a few weeks ago, I saw an update on Angela's CaringBridge page that shook me.
Angela has always been one of the strongest people I know. To read that she is no longer able to accomplish daily tasks shook me to the core. The pain Angela is feeling right now is unfair and I would not wish it on anyone. Her family and friends have tried to rally to help her mom and make life as easy and happy as possible. The pain...it is overwhelming to think about.
To learn about Angela - to see the impact she has had and still continues to have on people, check out her CaringBridge page: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/angelagold
If you would like to help offset her medical expenses, please visit her GoFundMe page:
Sending prayers of healing and strength to Angela, her Mom Elaine and to all of us who are blessed to have Angela in our lives.