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July 31, 2012 / bethanyshondark

Remembering July 31, 2002


This is a fairly heavy post for my first one, but this is the reason I decided to start a personal blog, for a place to write this. I’ve been thinking about getting this site off the ground for a while to post recipes and random musings, and this was the final push that made me get the site going.

Six years ago today I had a chance encounter that has stayed with me ever since. I was studying at Hebrew University for the summer, learning Hebrew in their ulpan program. It was a difficult summer. I had lost my mother about three years prior, and had just lost my father to suicide less than a year before. The Second Lebanon War broke out while I was in Israel, and I was gripped with fear most of my time in Jerusalem. I had never been there before, and thanks to a Birthright trip I was able to fly and tour the country for free. I extended my ticket and stayed two more months to learn Hebrew and immerse myself in Israeli life. While my stay was tense because of the war, it was also incredibly uplifting, feeling so in touch with my Jewish roots for the first time.

On my last afternoon in Jerusalem I met a man, Michael Simon, who had lost his soon-to-be fiancée in a bombing in a cafeteria on Hebrew University’s campus exactly four years prior. Little did either of us know he was about to go on a second date with a woman who would become his wife and the mother of his child.

While we sat in the cafeteria he told me his story, about the bombing, about his beloved Marla, about his life. I had never before and not since had an experience so raw, so deep, with an absolute stranger. I found him a few years ago on Facebook, and saw last night that he’s written a blog post about his loss and about moving on and finding happiness. It moved me just as much as hearing his story the first time, exactly six years ago today. It was wonderful to hear how his life has turned out, to see how well both of us are doing after that chance encounter. We were both in a low, dark place and found each other in that cafeteria. It’s nice to know that some sad stories can have happy-ish endings.



Leave a Comment
  1. Ally Garner (@allyugadawg) / Aug 1 2012 1:34 am

    Can’t tell you how delighted I am that you’re blogging again. You’re such a powerful, thought provoking writer.

    May Marla, Benjamin and the 5 others who perished rest in peace. And may our gracious, loving Lord give peace & comfort to their loved ones. You’ve lived a big life, my friend – looking forward to more posts like this in the future. Blessings to you & Seth!

    • bethanyshondark / Aug 2 2012 10:43 pm

      Thank you as always. You are still the nicest person on the internet 🙂

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