When life throws you as much stuff as it threw me, you eventually learn to read the signs. We actually try to stay ignorant for as long as possible because we resist change. But sooner or later if the universe wants you to get a message, one way or the other you will eventually acknowledge that message.

If you speak to people who have been through major stuff in their lives you will hear that there are always signs right before something really serious happens. So you actually know something really bad is about to happen, you can sense it will your whole being, but at the same time you kinda wish it would just go away because you don’t want to deal with it right now. You want to continue enjoying life and pretending everything is just dandy. I became an expert at this when a series of terrible tragedies started happening in my family. I actually perfected my ability to keep smiling and partying no matter what the universe threw at me – it sort of became a challenge that I took on. Josia vs. God – guess who won?

I grew up in a bit of a dysfunctional family so things were never exactly normal, but toward the end of my army service we entered a new phase of craziness. My beautiful 26 year old sister Lily went into Yechilov to give birth to her third child and I got a phone call on the base telling me to come home right away. I spent the next few hours assuring everyone that it’s probably no big deal, no one has ever died in my family blah blah blah. But something was off. Something was really wrong. I could sense it even though I was miles away from Tel Aviv. But I kept assuring myself that it’s no big deal – even when I saw her in intensive care not responding. Right up until the phone call came five minutes after I got home. You pick up a phone call in the kitchen, and that’s it – your eldest sister is gone forever. I was too numb to really register what was going on and didn’t want to deal with it. I was young, I had friends, everything was fine. I even went to a party a week later to prove it. But nothing was fine. Actually nothing would be fine for many years to come.

A year later we got a call from my brother in Vancouver at 1am, when I heard it was him on the line I hung up and let me mother deal with it. I had a feeling it was more bad news about my 23 year old sister Kaly who was going through a rough time. (She had actually been having a tough time ever since we made Aliyah and she had to leave all her friends in Montreal at the age of 15). And I went back to sleep. The next day I woke up my parents pretended that everything was fine but spent the day in bed sick – together. That was a bit strange but I went out and had fun with my friends, even though I had a nagging feeling that something was really wrong. I was right. My brother Ben had called to tell us that Kaly had killed herself but my parents couldn’t bring themselves to tell me. There were so many signs that she was going to take her life, it was absolutely clear to everyone for months, but we all pretended everything was ok. We didn’t want to deal with it. We didn’t know how to deal with it.  And we lost her.

So at this point I was like, ok something is really happening here. What is the universe trying to tell me? It actually took a lot more rude awakenings for me to finally get the message.

Did you see Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook? One of my all time favorite movies, especially the part about reading the signs: “but if it’s me reading the signs” …

There is a silver lining to my story. I eventually reached a point where I could look back and  understand exactly why all that had to happen. I miss my beautiful sisters but know now that we could not have changed anything. The only thing we can change is how we feel about what is happening all around us. We can change our attitude toward life and help raise the awareness of people around us.

You can watch this tv interview if you want to hear more about how I eventually learned to read the signs.

Here I am with my sister Kaly hugging me:

josia-kaly-nina