Sunday, February 21, 2010


For My Sister

For this post, I am taking a short break from commenting on the family law issues of the day- although I might tie a few things in the end. So here goes.

Last Monday, February 15, 2010, my sister Randi Rosenberg, passed away after living with stage four metastatic breast cancer. The funeral service was on Wednesday. She was 44. She has a five year old daughter, Alexandra Marais Rosenberg Purdue. The cancer blogosphere has been abuzz with the news, my sister having been a co-founder and past president of the Young Survival Coalition, as well as a founding member & inaugural advocacy co-chair at LiveSTRONG Young Adult Alliance for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Randi was also the owner of her own business and an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Her influence is such that the YSC has established the Randi Rosenberg Young Women’s Leadership Fund. At LiveSTRONG, she was referred to as “a giant”.

A few thoughts from my eulogy which I hope will inspire in her name and honor her in perpetuity:

You are going to hear a lot about my sister this afternoon...the blogs are already teeming with thoughts, prayers and remembrances. But we are going to sing her praises here and now– lest one second has gone by without a reminder of Randi’s bravery, intellect and joie de vivre. While I might suffer from delusions of grandeur of my clear similarity to Randi in these traits, I really do know better– I can only dream of possessing half of her strength and character.

Of her bravery, I would say that while she comes before, after, and contemporaneously with others who have fought cancer, Randi, along with her band of sisters who formed the Young Survival Coalition, did more than fight– they took up arms. Randi took her own struggle and used it to advocate for those whose voices were not heard. She spoke; she wrote; she appeared on TV, radio and the internet. Moreover, she cajoled, informed, and confronted. Whether it was a doctor with an air of superiority about to have that air unceremoniously and forcibly sucked from his now deflated ego or a skeptical politician whose bloated self-interest was about to be used for research and funding for the good of others– Randi got things done.
Randi was, and remains, a force. A force of nature. A force to be reckoned with. A force majeure...
It is so hard to encapsulate a life such as Randi’s in such a short period of time. The inclination is to go on talking so that the words extend her life. But I know ultimately– at least for now that the words must end. The impact of her life, however, continues...
So now Randi goes to comfort and be comforted by our father who she loved so much and who loved her in kind. To rest without pain and to inspire us ever after. Randi was nothing less than a Superstar. And so when you look into the night sky and it is brighter that it used to be, it is because Randi made it so. That is what a Superstar does. She makes everything brighter and happier and more special– simply because she is. The Superstar rises and is ever-present even as the physical wanes. At the end of Randi’s physical life, five year old Alexandra said it best, “Good night mommy. If you are tired you can close your eyes now. Go to sleep”

That a child of five must now go on without a mother, especially one as strong and inspiring as hers, is tragic. That our own mother has to also go on without a child so young, is crushing. That the rest of us, including her partner, Matt, cannot fill the void left by a giant, leaves us numb and grasping desperately for explanation. Randi, though, would look only to find the positive. To take tragedy and seek hope. To take the blow and shrug it off. To take the enormous void and imbue it with joyous life. These are the lessons to be learned even as darkness falls– if we want to learn them. While my sister was suffering and others complained, she would challenge them, “Tell me three good things that happened to you today”, thus forcing them to find the good in life. The choice was always hers to make and she always made sure that her decisions counted– even in the end. She enriched the lives of others.

So for those in the midst of their own conflict and struggle– while the battle is joined and the fight is ongoing– take the challenge, look ahead, protect your children, find some hope, create your own destiny, make a difference.