I will never forget the Uber ride I took to the hospital to visit Yudi. I was fortunate to be Mendy's (the oldest boy) teacher a couple of years ago and had kept up both with Mendy and his parents since. My mind raced as I thought what on earth could I tell Yudi, how would the visit be? Would it be awkward? Would Yudi even be awake? All these questions plagued my mind as we drove through the streets of Manhattan getting closer to NYU.
I was told to tell the reception that I am Yudi's cousin, which I did. I was given directions to his room and given the full medical gown to wear. I walked into Yudi's room feeling very nervous and not sure what to expect. As I came in, I saw Yudi brushing his teeth! He looked up with a big smile and said, "Rabbi Weinbaum! Look, I am able to brush my teeth for the first time in months!" He proceeded to tell me how his stay in the hospital was his Shlichus and how many people he had affected. I watched as the nurses came in and how he spoke with each one - he told them "I have to get better, thousands of people around the world are praying for me and waiting for me to come home!" After being there for about half an hour a nurse popped in and said you have another visitor by the name of ...., he's your cousin. Yudi turned to me and said, "All the visitors have to say they are my cousin to get in! But it's true, we all are cousins dating back from Odom Horishon!"
I have thought over this visit so many times. Firstly I am so grateful to Mrs. Dukes for suggesting that I visit Yudi. This visit had a very profound affect on me. Secondly, I left that room thinking "If Yudi can do it, I can do it!" If Yudi can smile and call out to me with such excitement about brushing his teeth, sounding like he won the lottery, if Yudi could have such energy when he was lying so weak in a hospital bed, if Yudi could welcome guests into his hospital room as if he were welcoming them into his beautiful home, if Yudi could have such Bitochon, than so can I!
When I messaged Mrs. Dukes on the way home that day, thanking her for giving me the opportunity, I told her "Yudi is my hero". Yudi will always be my hero and I will forever be indebted for the Chizuk and life lessons he has taught me.
I still can't believe I am writing this after Yudi's passing, to me it doesn't seem real... it doesn't seem possible... May we merit the coming of Moshiach very soon when we will be reunited with Yudi!