As Memorial day approaches, the nation starts to collectively mourn those who have fallen in the service of our country and those who were victims of terror. For the bereaved families though, this is simply just another day in the ongoing struggle to continue life without their loved ones. For the first time, I too will continue to mourn the loss of my best friend Bar Houli, who died on September 4th, 2014, and will be honored for the first time this year in Memorial Day.

Sometimes life places challenges in front of you that are beyond difficult. I have never, not in my wildest dreams, thought that Bar will be remembered in this day. Moreover, I never imagined that I would have to mourn Bar, at least not so soon. Those who knew Bar know what I mean when I say that she was living the essence of life, grasping it completely. Someone from this sort can’t just disappear. Not like that. Not like this.

I have known Bar for the last 18 years since we were 8. I have loved this girl with all my heart from the first moment we have met in second grade, sitting with her on the bench by the school’s playground, until the last time I saw her, when we said our goodbyes in her car in Jerusalem, a week before she died. Now she is gone, and we, those who loved her, are left to be comforted by the memories we hold dear. Because Bar, and I write this with tears going down my face, was such a wonderful person. I have learned from her so much, and I would like to take advantage of this public arena  and share with you some of the things she had taught me by who she was and by how she lived her life.

1) Laugh about life, laugh at yourself, laugh when you can- it is the best way of living. Bar had the most amazing sense of humor, and she always, even in the most difficult situations, knew how to tackle it head on with humor. Those of us who knew her benefited from this amazing gift she had. We all have stories on how she managed to get us to laugh even when we really did not want to. This is the most inspiring, healthy and happy way to live your life. This is how she lived hers. Just laugh about it.

2) Do everything in your power to preserve the relationships worth being preserved. One of the most meaningful things my friend taught me, is to never let those who are dear to you to fade away from your life. Relationships are life’s flowers- you have to water them. If you don’t, you will one day wake up and realize you can’t save them. However, there are those who are not worth fighting for. Cherish your time and your heart, and invest in those who you really want in your life.

3) Don’t be easy with yourself, but love yourself no matter what. This is a tricky one, I know. However, I think that this is also one of the most important ways to live your life to the fullest. When you are faced with challenges, and you will face them, don’t run from them. Don’t be in denial. Don’t be afraid to get some harsh critique- this is the way we grow as people. Be aware of your flaws as a person and don’t be shy about them- weak people hide them, strong people acknowledge them. However, if there is something Bar has taught me in this context, is to be kind to yourself. Your core, as she said to me once, needs to be happy. You are here to make yourself happy. Hence- Love thyself.

4) Talk to yourself. This lesson is somewhat related to my former point, and is all about being connected to oneself. Bar was one of those people, who are so aware of how they feel and why they feel it, that they can’t be in denial. Ever. Sometimes it complicates life, but in the majority of cases- it helps you grow. It allows you to become who you want to be.

5) Go for the things you want- Don’t wait, because life will pass you byGrowing up in a small town, Bar didn’t let anything limit her- not geographic boundaries, nor mental ones. She wanted to sing? She took singing lessons. She wanted to learn Spanish? She took them too. She wanted to act? She traveled by herself to TLV, at the age of 16, to learn acting. She wanted to study in an international school? She got accepted to UWC (United World Colleges), one of 9 kids selected from Israel every year, and went. She was 17. This attitude followed Bar everywhere she went. I remember I once told her that our town was just too damn small for her. Honestly, I think she could have conquered the world. I want to stress to all of you who are reading this, that if there is one thing you should take from Bar, it is this- don’t just dream about the things you want. Break free from your comfort zone. Own your life. It is yours, and tragically, as I learned from Bar’s death, you truly only live once.

Hearing Bar’s name being read among others in this day is beyond painful. It is the essence of the tragedy that I feel when she is being reduced to another name in the list. Publicly writing the lessons she has taught me are my small way to make the world remember who she was and how she lived her short life. Bar lived in more ways than a lot of people reaching old age do, and we all have a lot to learn from her.

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This post is dedicated to my wild flower, BAR HOULI, who died in India, September 4th, 2014, and will be honored this year for the first time as a fallen of the security forces. She was a beautiful soul, my closest friend, my sister by choice and forever will be with me as long as I live. I Love you so much.