Readers Reflect: To be inspired

As part of JPost's High Holidays competition, one reader shares her story of loss and how it inspired her to lead a more positive life.

Cemetery (photo credit: Reuters)
(photo credit: Reuters)
At JPost we asked readers to share their experiences from the past year that have inspired them to make a change. Doreen Winter shares her story:
This was a very heavy year with great moments as well as deep sadness. I had the honor to love and know a dear friend and be with her until the end. I had the joy of celebrating my oldest daughter's engagement and helping her with wedding preparations. I had the trauma of canceling the wedding five days before it was meant to happen. Through these life events I was inspired to be a happier person with both eyes open and tremendous gratitude for what I do have.
My dear friend Chana died on 25 of Av 5771. She was diagnosed with a brain cancer three and a half years ago. She had an operation and had the cancer removed and for a few years she lived but then the cancer returned. More than a friend, Chana was the big sister I never had the honor of knowing (my big sister died before I was born). She was a mentor to me on manners, and how to take life's troubles with dignity. Chana was a very classy lady.
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Chana was the daughter of a well known lawyer. Her mother, an educated, life member to Hadassah was warm and loving. Born into wealth and the education that is hallmark of the higher levels of society, she knew the art of holding her head high and acting like royalty. Chana knew the art of how to mask her true feelings. With me she was honest and shared so much, I hope it gave her some relief to let go.
I have learned from Chana that nothing is what it seems to be. We are all tested; we all experience pain, disgrace and trauma.
Each one of us chooses how to deal with the hand we are dealt. Chana chose to help others, to smile and touch each soul that came into her life. Like royalty no one knew how hard life was for her. I had the honor to see the public and the private side of Chana and both sides were beautiful. I would like very much to be a bit more like Chana.
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I feel she was a happier person than most because she did not bathe in her pain. She smiled and it became her. She did kindnesses and they were her essence. She loved the people around her. She was a truly loving and kind woman.
I will miss Chana. I will miss her friendship, open ear and the honor of being someone she trusted.  This year, I said good bye to my dear friend.
To marry off an oldest daughter is a huge undertaking. I did not grow up in a religious home, and moved to Israel 15 years ago, so the whole thing was a big deal. I just wanted to be a loving and supportive mother. When my daughter came to me and reported this is not going to work out we talked it over a bit and then we canceled everything.
On the week of the canceled wedding, we went on a family camping trip so the family could heal and be there for each other. When we returned home, friends and neighbors shared with me their tales of broken engagements, divorce and lost love. A great sadness filled me both because of Chana's passing and my daughter's break up, which happened days from each other.
Then I got it. Chana wanted to live, even when all she could move was her head because her body was inoperable.  She loved life and people and looked forward to each new day. What was wrong with me that I did not get that life was an adventure worth taking with all its ups and downs. I was inspired by her will to live to want to live too. I want to love each day and love all the people in my life. Take one day at a time. To be grateful and feel blessed. I am blessed to have had a good friend and blessed that my daughter trusted me and went with her instincts that this was not the right person for her. I look forward to dancing at her wedding and loving whomever it is she will marry. I look forward to living a life of joy looking forward to each coming day.