The year that was a little less bright

We lit Dod Ilan’s memorial candle yesterday for the first time when the 3 stars shone in the new week’s sky.  

And in the gilded darkness, the kids and I took turns talking about him: 

“He used to pretend to be a monster and chase us,” said my son.

“I miss his hugs,” said my daughter.

I met Ilan in the clear blue autumn of 2004, and we spoke about the nature of the world, the incidents and accidents that lead us to this moment, this time, for the first time.

“The world ISN’T small,” he said after I marveled at all the coincidence we shared. “everything is random.”

He  liked Steak and Endless Shrimp from the Sizzler off of Highway 880.

He could quote an entire season of Friends (could he BE any more accurate with the comedic timing?)

He would call your bluff in a poker tournament with a sardonic smile, and a “don’t fuck with me” gleam in his eye.

And he loved his niece and nephew with so much heart and strength and might that even during the last weeks we shared with him on earth, he would lift them in his arms and swing them high in the air.

“We’re flying! We’re flying!” they would shriek. And they were.

I remember a talented man with an eye for the absurd, for teasing out details in a story when he would direct short films. A man with a heart so big it could fit all of us in it. A man who didn’t judge, but took life as it was and lived it with eyes and arms wide open. 

And during the seconds, then minutes, then hours then days, then weeks, then months following that last breath he took, when we measured time in the distance between having him with us and having him gone, the world was a little less bright.

And during that year time moved faster than our feelings:

My son rode a bicycle with no training wheels.

My daughter scaled the monkey bars.

The earth scorched under the summer sun. Then the rains came. And the loquat tree Ilan planted so many years ago blossomed once, and we gathered the sweet fruit as it fell. 

And now, we light this candle to remember.

“What happened to Dod Ilan’s soul when he died,” my son asked last night in the glow of the candle, the first for a lifetime we will light for him.

“It goes inside us,” my daughter replied. “And then it lives forever.”


Please. In honor of Dod Ilan, of such blessed memory, I hope you will consider making a donation to The Children’s Tumor Foundation in his honor.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.