This month is your 18th birthday. Or rather... should have been.

You haven't been an active child for 11 years, though we think of you and remember you constantly. Sure, sometimes the memory evokes such pain that it's easier to push it back to the farthest part of the brain, to be stored for the next time you appear in our minds. The fact is that we really don't know you anymore.

You left us at the age of seven, a clever little rascal...with all your baby teeth intact. And now you have reached the age of "Chai" (which means in Hebrew both 'life' and '18') -- albeit not in our world of the living.

Your life ended so shockingly fast that the human brain has trouble absorbing it even a decade later.

Perhaps one can compare it to phantom pain. How can one actually feel pain in a limb which has been amputated? And yet, doctors are aware of these sensations and give scientific reasons for it. Obviously, the brain as the center of nerves cannot make the distinction of a limb which had previously been there to one which was severed. It's like the nerves are telling each other, "Guys, once a limb, always a limb. There's no such thing as gone."

I think the same applies to kids. Once you had them, loved them, took care of them, they became a part of your being. There's no such thing as gone.

But the obvious is stronger than any imagination. Yes, they are physically gone. We are left with memories, memories which evoke more pain than joy. Sure, we remember those clever quips of yours... but they more than often cause a tightening of the chest and a choking sensation in the throat, fighting to hold back those tears.

So what is your message to us now? Perhaps at a time when so many mothers are sitting shiva for sons killed in this brutal war of 2006 and so many families are grieving for their losses the message is that in the end, we must appreciate life.

No guarantee certificate accompanies any human being. Every day is a gift, every functioning part of our body is a present from God. If we could truly appreciate all we get from the Above on a daily basis, all free of charge, we would count our blessings, be uplifted and happy.

Sure, I know that's wishful thinking... but it really should be that way if we took time to mark down the abundance of blessings we have.

So why are we the way we are? Perhaps that is the ultimate goal of humanity.

To overcome adversity and remain with faith and confidence that bottom line, we have so much to be grateful and thankful for.

May all those grieving people somehow be comforted and may we merit the coming of the final redemption.