You should not be sitting or standing here; I should not be here speaking to you. It does not feel right. I did this some nineteen years ago when my darling daughter Sara left us. This should be something that a child should be saying about a parent.
Are there words that a father can express his feelings for his eldest son? The excitement when he was born our first child, his pidyon haben, what joy. This is the wrong order of life. It is he who should be saying something about my life, not this way round.
Laura asked me to tell you about Daniel’s earlier life. I cannot tell you much.It is too painful for me.Forgive me, Laura.But I do want to pay this tribute to my beloved son.
Some of us might know the story of the fearless Daniel in the lion’s den.This was our Daniel in defence of his family and the ones he cared for.
Daniel was a big man, not just in size but in ideas, in anything and everything he decided to do
Daniel means something different to each and everyone here.Some knew him as a sportsman.He loved football and in spite of his age told me he was going to continue until he was 60.Some knew him as a businessman; some knew him has the most loving father and husband; some knew him as a brother; and some as a son.
Daniel was a big man, not just in size but in ideas, in anything and everything he decided to do. One of his earlier holiday jobs was to get names for an insurance company that started his interest in this field of commerce. He was so successful he was offered a permanent job. And the rest of it is history when it comes to his business life. I’m not sure it is fully realised how creative, innovative and how enormously successful he was in building his company, initially with Richard Lee his schoolboy friend.
When he fell in love with Elaine, his real first love he was only nineteen but it was all-consuming for him. Nothing could hold him back to win the love of his life. His two girls were everything to him; to him they were beautiful not only outside but inside also. I feel the same about Laura and Samantha. He would have gone to the ends of the universe and back for them.
I am thinking about how we are going to come to terms and carry on after this terrible tragedy. There must be some way if only I can find the words to help us understand where we are and how we all are going to face the future.
how fortunate that this man passed our way
I was listening just recently to a Rabbi about life and death, and I think his words have helped me to try and find a way to come to terms with life. He was asked the question, is there life after death? He said this is a non-question. Life is life, and death is death. The body returns to dust from whence it came, but life continues.
When we are born, we are just skin, bone, blood, and if you are fortunate a spirit, a soul enters this body, and it becomes a person. Some souls are old ones and continue their journey through life in this new body; some are new souls and have to learn again from the beginning.
When my darling Daniel was born, he had an old soul entering his body, possibly from the long line in our families of Rabbis and distinguished forefathers. This gave him the power to drive forward and become an achiever, a good man to society, as well as to those he touched and, especially to Elaine and, Laura and Samantha.
So, where are we now? The soul has left his body, it goes back to the dust from whence it came. But his soul has not left us; the essence of the man is with us still. He will remain with us always, especially with his three loved ones, with Brenda and me and his two brothers, in fact, all those who have cared for him in their own way.
So when we feel lost and do not know which way to turn, when we feel lonely and feel the need for his company, we know he is nearby, caring for the ones he loves.Our hearts are broken, our eyes are red from tears, we ask again and again, why? But hesitate, think, how fortunate that this man passed our way.
Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. The world still spins on its axis, the sun rises every day, but for the Freedmans we have lost another part of our being.For us, everything has changed.
Before I get on to the main part of what I want to say, I wanted to share with you the essence of Rabbi Josh’s sermon at Nila. He spoke at length about “Being Kind”, such important two words. It has made me think even more about this. Always be kind.
Life is really a training ground to learn to cope with the vicissitudes that are thrown in our paths. We try and prepare ourselves for possible happenings that we think might come our way. But some happenings are just outside our contemplations and completely destroy the balance we have so carefully taught ourselves over the years.
And so we find ourselves here today. Contemplating this memorial to Daniel, two years since his tragic death. Trying to come to terms with our loss and to understand the meaning of life, which has so cruelly robbed us of a husband, a father, a son, and a brother.
from a very young age, and throughout his fifty nine years, he showed maturity and accomplishments beyond his years
Brenda and I have had to face our own demons and come to terms with the loss of another child that we loved and nursed and nurtured in their early years and watched with pride as they grew to independence. And speaking for Kevin and Richard, the loss of another sibling is so hard to understand and come to terms with.
But I recognise for us four, the disruption of our lives does not compare in any way with the huge gap in the lives of Elaine, Laura and Samantha. Their loss has been overwhelming. I only wish Brenda and I had been able to help to shield them from some of their pain, but we too were suffering in this great loss to us all.
I want to say a few words more about Daniel shortly.
But first, I want to pay my tribute to Elaine, Laura and Samantha, who fought so hard to protect Daniel after his accident. I know the gap in their lives is not measurable by words alone. In the fullness of time, Laura and Samantha will start their own dynasty, but for Elaine, it is another dimension. To lose a partner so young and full of life, but to have the strength to hold tight to her family and not to lose her way, in spite of the obstacles, is in itself proof of a remarkable person.
Elaine, I know of Daniel’s great admiration and love for you; how correct his judgement was, the way you have managed your lives and protected your girls since Daniel’s passing. You are a remarkable lady, and I admire you greatly.
Daniel seems to have had a clear plan from the start, which really never changed
Thinking about life’s achievement, how does one measure success? Many people are blessed to have a long span to make their mark. To grow and achieve, for many, it takes years of great effort. Having a long span helps to get to the goal if there is one. But for Daniel, he has been cut off too early to be able to complete his plans for his family. His family were always his overriding priority.
Daniel, from a very early age, had a clear vision of what he liked and disliked. Many people move from one idea and way of life to another, but Daniel seems to have had a clear plan from the start, which really never changed. Although his horizons, of course, widened as he grew up.
Elaine sent me a photo of Daniel showing his fascination with diggers. When he was only three or four years old it would not have been possible to pass a digger or enormous lorry without stopping to watch and examine it. For his birthday, I think he was about three or four years old, he wanted a BIG BIG Lorry as his present. This was always Daniel’s measure in anything he did.He never changed; this constancy remained.
In his youth, he was really not interested in school work; his overriding passion was football and girls. Football always remained one of his overriding passions. But when he met Elaine, other girls were out; he had only eyes for you Elaine.He never changed; this constancy remained.
He was always enterprising; he started serious work at eighteen years of age and never looked back. He always had big ideas. Having big ideas is all very well, but to turn them into success is not for everybody, but it was for Daniel. He had an enormous work ethic. He was a self-made man.
Age is not necessarily a measure of accomplishments; youth is not necessarily a measure of maturity, but for Daniel, from a very young age, and throughout his fifty nine years, he showed maturity and accomplishments beyond his years.
to have had the opportunity to love and be loved is life’s great blessing
I feel that you, Elaine, are coming to learn how to cope with your great loss and have a meaningful life with your family and friends, who care so much for you.
But, what words can I find for Laura and Samantha to try and find the positives of life? I cannot imagine the crashing thoughts careering through your minds. What sense can you make of what has happened?
I know from my own loss that there is no sense, no logic, no meaning; it is not possible to understand why this has happened to you. Love alone does not solve all the tragedies of life. But to have had the opportunity to love and be loved is life’s great blessing. You, Laura and Samantha, have been blessed in this way, and although the hurt is sometimes unbearable, you must hold this blessing to your hearts and know you have been so fortunate..
As I said in my eulogy at Daniel’s funeral, how fortunate we all are that this man passed our way.