Gil Ronen. Why Did You Leave This World?

Graphic by Farhana Rahman
Graphic by Farhana Rahman

Dear Gil,

Why did you leave this world? Do you have any idea just how loved you really were?

I first learned of your passing a few hours after it happened. From Facebook. The very network which sparked our unconventional friendship. It was a status posted by our friend Joshua Wander. A dreadful acronym followed by your name, on the very color associated with love, leadership… and danger.

Taken from Facebook account of Joshua Wander.

Later on, from another source, I learned that you were found in your home, having passed away under unspecified tragic circumstances. Rumors started circulating that you took your own life. I was in complete shock to see your name associated with that. No! That can’t be YOU! I figured it was a man that shared your name, looked exactly like you, and lived a life strikingly similar to yours. I went straight to Facebook Messenger, to see when you were last active on it. It was a day ago. Okay, that’s not a bad sign. So I messaged you.

What the hell is this that everyone is saying? Are you there?

Gil. For the first time ever- minutes were going by. Hours were going by. You didn’t reply. It has now been days. You still didn’t reply. And you didn’t even log into Facebook Messenger to see my message to you. You never made me wait this long.

And so I shivered. I cried. My skin started to get real warm and itchy… I started breaking out. I canceled a call I had scheduled because I was unable to speak coherently. My hands were trembling and I was clumsy with everything- starting with my iPhone which fell out of my hands for no reason, cracking the hard screen protector I placed on it. In any other time, I’d tell you that you owe me a shawarma for that.

But did you actually take your own life, Gil? Maybe you passed quickly from an unexpected natural cause, sudden and painless, right?

Goodness. I knew you were battling so many demons within. Between the divorce, and the heartbreaking situation with finances and the kids… I couldn’t blame you for being devastated every second of every day. But that never stopped you from being a complete sweetheart to me. I really enjoyed our friendship very much. It started when you wrote about me in 2016 on Israel National News. That post became ridiculously popular, and opened up many opportunities for me. It also sparked many amazing friendships, which I could never thank you enough for.

We then started talking to each other about everything. From your efforts as a voice for the rights of divorced fathers, to puns, to office drama, to food, to science, to my love of beards and chest hair. Oh you loved making fun of me for that. And I loved embarrassing you under some of your pics and vids, saying your beard was looking good, followed by heart emojis. You also defended me, sometimes too aggressively, whenever anyone had anything to say against me that was even a hint of not-nice.

Many divorced fathers turned to you for support. Sometimes you would refer them to me, because you always felt that I was so pure and good, to the point that evil wouldn’t dare touch me. And you firmly believed that if I communicated with those divorced fathers, they would be blessed somehow, and evil would move away from them as well. Thank you for viewing me like that. But I was your friend first and foremost, Gil. Why wasn’t my goodness and purity enough to rid your demons? Why do I feel so guilty?

Now as I overanalyze our friendship and past conversations, I realize that perhaps my purpose in your life was to serve as a distraction. Maybe you turned to me for silly and pleasant conversations that had nothing to do with the battles you conquered day in and out. You didn’t message me before your passing, but I can’t help but beat myself up over not checking in on you.

Maybe if I would have messaged you, you would have been happy for a little while. And (assuming you did choose to take your own life) maybe our delightful conversation would have led to you deciding to postpone the rumored act to the next day. Then maybe the next day would have been a great day for you- and the thought would have escaped your mind.

You always did tell me that we share the same problem of overthinking.

Regardless of what happened… the defense mechanism in my mind is now like, “Gil is finally getting the uninterrupted rest he needed.”

I did notice that anxiety was building up inside you these past few months. You couldn’t catch a break. You got jumpy over the slightest things, such as why I didn’t “like” or respond to some of your comments. You were sad at me for speaking to you in a formal manner once, and I had to spend a few minutes apologizing for that. It was because my brain was in total work-mode at the time, and I was busy writing a press release. It had nothing to do with my level of care for you.

But I must say though, I am so damn disappointed. Not in you, God no- never in you. But by the media. You were a stellar journalist, speaker, media personality, advocate… why hasn’t the media done more to immortalize you with coverage on your passing and legacy? This is where I am kind of mad at myself again, for not doing more to make myself an actual journalist instead of just another blogger. So I could have written a beautiful piece in your honor that would be shared widely, as you deserve, my friend.

I am also mad at myself for not being able to carry the torch for you. For not being able to pick up where you left off. I’m so sorry Gil. I have no idea of the plight of divorced fathers in Israel. I’m not qualified to write a single sentence on the matter. I wouldn’t even know where to begin reading up on it, and how to get seasoned on it rapidly enough to form educated opinions and voice them with power and confidence comparable to yours. I don’t even personally know anyone else who does what you did to your degree, to offer my assistance on how they can achieve a greater reach. I’m so sorry.

For what it’s worth though- you encouraged and inspired me in many ways. I’ll do my best to excel in all that you told me to pursue.

Remember when you posted this?

Taken from Gil Ronen’s Facebook account

No Gil. May the world merit to have more friends like you.

Rest your caring and gentle eyes well, my friend. I will forever miss you. Please do not hesitate to have your neshama visit me in my dreams. I will continue conversing with you.

Till we meet again,

Farhana

About the Author
Farhana Rahman has been representing socially driven Israeli startups for over 5 years, and has been in the PR/Marketing industries for nearly 10 years. She currently works for SeeTree, a technology and service in the AgriTech space as their Marketing Director. Farhana always makes time to assist startups in an advisory role with initiatives surrounding product launches, marketing campaigns, and social strategy. Additionally, she finds enjoyment in giving presentations on those topics in company events and roundtables. In the rare instances Farhana is not glued to her mobile devices, you will find her cooking gourmet feasts for her parents, playing mindless games with her brother, or running (Netflix) marathons with her husband.
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