I remember this moment so well.
Three years ago. I was in a taxi with my son and my parents on our way to Tel Aviv. Then came the strange phone calls, talking about rumors on Facebook, saying that you were dead.
With complete confidence I replied that there was no way. We had corresponded just two weeks before that. You had sent me a beautiful happy birthday email, like you always did.
When we talk about life and death, two weeks are an eternity. Your passing taught us that death can sneak up on you at any moment. Everything is impermanent. We already knew that in our mind. Now we know it in our hearts, and it hurts like hell.
How long did it take you to die, or to even realize that you were dying? What did you think in these moments? Were you happy to let go of this harsh human experience? Were you sad about all the things you still hadn’t said or done? Were you grateful for your achievements and the beautiful relationships you’d made? Did you feel loved? Which words were on your lips?
The last words you wrote me were: “I love you!”
The last words I wrote you were: “Promise to write more soon.”
I did not get a chance to write to you again when you were alive, so I wrote when you were dead, hoping there was a mailbox on the other side.
You died around the time when every year, 99 percent of the world’s population gets sunlight simultaneously. I imagine your soul soaring to the sky, bathing in light, radiating light. Like it should have.
You were always so alive. Whenever I write the word “vitality” I imagine you jumping in class, demonstrating how the juice has to flow through our bodies when we do an asana with awareness and alignment. Prana was bursting out of you. Your eyes were so joyful, alert, and awake. Even when you were soaked in sorrow, your eyes were always bright.
This was your biggest gift to the yoga world. You brought life to places that were dead. Yogis can also get stuck. We get stuck in our routines, in the asanas or sequences that we practice or teach, in the ways we teach. How many times have we practiced downward dog? Warrior one? Warrior two? It becomes a habit; it becomes boring, and so we start looking for the more extravagant, challenging asanas. When we do that, yoga becomes gymnastics.
You helped us find depth in simple asanas like Tadasana, the mountain pose. You taught us that if we bring out the juice, even a simple standing pose can become alive, meaningful, and enlightening.
You brought this liveliness into everything you did. Like your little tea ceremonies, steeping your oolong tea in the special teapot you carried wherever you traveled, then pouring it to your own teacup, drinking it deliberately. I remember sitting with you in your room at Purple Valley Yoga Retreat, drinking tea and wondering about all the rooms where we would sit and drink tea together.
I am grateful for the time we had together, but there were so many undrunk teas waiting for us.
There are millions of coffee cups, waiting for your appreciation in Tel Aviv. There are thousands of sourdough bread loafs waiting for your enjoyment in San Francisco. There are hundreds of bourekases waiting for you in the special corner you loved at Machne Yehuda market in Jerusalem, wanting you to celebrate them, like no one else does.
There are all the fruits and vegetables in the world’s best farmers’ markets, waiting for someone to look at them with childlike enthusiasm and joy, like only you did. There are shiny peppers waiting for someone to fall in love with them, like only you did. There are fancy pineapples waiting for someone to examine them as if they were precious pieces of art, like only you did.
So much energy was taken away from this world when you died! You elevated any room you walked into; you elevated this entire world. The world is unelevated for three years now.
Where are you now? Are you sitting somewhere above, watching me writing these words for you, your eyes filled with tears of joy, like they used to be so often?
Were you reincarnated into a new life? I imagine you as a joyful, energetic baby, gazing at the world with huge blue eyes. Do you remember your previous life as the great yoga teacher Maty Ezraty? Do you meditate in your dreams? Will you ever remember the thousands of people whose lives you transformed? Will you ever remember me?
I want to end this with the words that should have been my last words to you.
I love you.
“Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds” ~ Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.