My Friend Zack
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

October 1, 2015

Zack and me, class photo, 1973, side by side.

I do not know where this blog will take me. It has no particular goal or point, just a need to put pen to paper. Two of us riding nowhere...

How the years fly by. 1969, a new kid in town, from Canada. I am a shy kid and my mother tells me to go over and introduce myself to this new guy in town. So I listen to my dear mother and do so.

I remember the clothing, the style, 1969. The music.  The bell bottom jeans.

We become best friends, we hang out together all the time. We go to school together, take the bus home together. Adopt a puppy. Whenever I hear the song by the Beatles, "Two of Us", I think of me and Zack.

"Two of us riding nowhere...."

"not arriving..on our way back home, we are our way home, we're going home"

On weekends we snuck into construction sites to play, we hung out too late, we disappeared for hours on end. We did so many things. We played baseball, built a little "go cart", even got into a little trouble now and then. I remember when our little brothers got into a fight, we were punished together and had to write 100 times, "One must separate between brothers who quarrel"   "יש להפריד בן אחים רבים"

I have not forgotten that phrase, the punishment worked.

The years passed; we moved in different directions. But at university we were back together. Goodness the memories come back and overwhelm me. I remember when this girl wanted to go out with him...

"You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out of here..."

She told me to be subtle. Subtle? With my life long friend? I just went up and said, "Zack, Amy is crazy about you, she wants to go out."

One is not subtle with such friends.

Memories...summer camp with lousy food, my band playing a party at his big house, girlfriends, You and me chasing paper getting nowhere on our way back home, were on our way home...

Zack, the years disappear. On our way back home...

and now he is going home. I miss you my friend.

Zack moved back to Canada, had a family, five kids. We kind of lost touch. Saw him now and then when he came to Israel. We kept in touch now and then. And then he was hit with something, he described as a bolt of lightening going through his head. Surgery, recovery, treatment...Zack fought on.

A few months ago an old friend, Stewart, part of our little gang, wrote me that Zack was in a hospice. I began calling weekly. At first, he could talk a little. Nechama, his wife, said his spirits were lifted whenever he heard my voice. This made me so happy. She said it made him smile.

We relived childhood memories. I said out loud, Zack old buddy I love you. So important to say these things. And I truly mean it.

I flew to Germany for a Krav Maga seminar. My brother wrote me that he had heard from Amiel, another childhood friend living in Canada, that Zack was near the end. But he held on. Amiel wrote that Zack truly desired life, and that every day was precious to him. How sweet and profound.

Nechama told me how "Zack had a good day, Zack is eating, Zack enjoyed being outside in the nice weather."

He loved life and appreciated every day.

What a lesson for us.

I can picture him, lying in bed, no hope for recovery, but smiling because an old friend is on the phone from Israel.

Old friends...on our way back home. We are on our way home, we're going home. You and I have memories...

How fast life goes by. And I can picture his house way back when.. and I can hear his voice.

I had hoped that Zack would hold on a little bit longer, so I could call one more time, at least. I spoke to him when I was in California, with my brother Michael, we both spoke with him, our dear friend. That was like a little reunion.

To lose such a friend is to lose another part of myself. Zack passed away just a couple of days ago. He passed away on the first morning of Sukkoth, the Feat of Tabernacles. I can still see in my memory the Sukkah, the hut, at Zack's home, which was always open and welcoming.

He is gone now, and I could not attend the funeral. And I am sad.

Zack was a good guy. Not a world champion in anything, not brilliant, not an inventor, but a solid good guy. He smiled, he laughed, he was modest and honest. He was my friend and I miss him.