Joshua Auerbach, 24, grew up in Niskayuna, NY. He received his BSc in honours computer science from McGill University in 2005, and began a PhD program in computer science at the University of Vermont in January, 2008.
When Noam first told me of his plans to raise money for Alli’s Journey, I thought it was a great idea and was honored that he wanted to include my family’s story. I was more then willing to agree when he asked that I write a little something about my sister Alison. However, I did not realize how difficult this would be for me to do. It has been over four years since she was so suddenly taken from this world, and to this day I still cannot comprehend how such a horrible thing could happen to such a wonderful person.
I would like to take this opportunity to write about what a great person Ali (as I called her) was, and what we can learn from her tragedy. In addition to being my big sister, Ali gave so much to the community. She provided instruction, guidance, friendship and advice to so many young people. She was both a public school biology teacher and the advisor for our synagogue’s NFTY youth group. I was always amazed by her dedication; whether she was staying up late grading tests, writing lesson plans or picking up the slack planning youth group events when the members who should have did not. These are just a couple examples of the many ways she truly cared, more than anyone else I have ever known. She was always there for her students, the youth group kids, her friends and especially her family.
Being nine years my senior, Alison was often looking out for me when I was a child. She was almost a second mother to me (or third since my grandmother also lived with us). I know she would have been a wonderful mother to her daughter, Rebecca, and am most saddened that Rebecca will never really get a chance to know her mother or feel her love. Even on Alison’s last day of life, her greatest concern was the well being of Rebecca.
I know how much Ali meant to me, but it had never really occurred to me how many other people’s lives she was able to touch in such a short time until she was gone. The sanctuary of our shul was literally overflowing with people at her funeral. Though I was completely overcome by sadness at the time, in retrospect I am amazed at how many people she was able to connect with and influence in her life, much more so than the majority of people who live till old age.
Although I continue to miss her terribly, I have learned from her passing just how fleeting life is. We all must cherish our friends and families, enjoy the good times and live life to its fullest, because even if we think we are in good health we never know if each day will be our last.
That being said I would like to applaud Noam and Alli’s Journey for their efforts. Cancer is a terrible disease, and it was awful to witness it take my big sister – who was in every other way a completely healthy, physically fit young woman – from this world. However, at the very least she had the constant love and support of so many family and friends as she tried so hard to fight it. No one should have this happen to them, but if it does at the very least they should not have to go through it alone.
I commend Alli’s Journey for providing support to these young adults who need it most, as well as their contributions to cancer research. Everyday I read about scientific advances that will lead to better cancer therapies and my hope is that someday soon we will be able to completely defeat all forms of this disease.I encourage everyone to do what they can to support fundraising efforts like Noam’s and organizations like Alli’s Journey, because each of us really can make a difference.
– Signed, JOSHUA
The memorial site for Alison Auerbach can be found at www.yanoti.com/Alison/index.htm.