Posted by Ari Z. Miller:
“You can go in.”
With these four words I traveled back two years in time. I was visiting the home of Ariel’s parents, Robert and Karen Avrech, with my friend Yehudah Kaplan and his brother Mordechai. I had not been in the house since the shiva and found myself looking at the art pieces on the wall, the striking photographs, the modern leather couches that were the temporary shul for the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days, and of course Robert’s Emmy sitting on the mantle.
Yehuda and I explored the house. And then, Robert walked by as we passed Ariel’s room.
“You can go in,” he said.
Yehudah and I looked at each other trying to guage what the other wanted to do. Finally, we both shrugged our shoulders and stepped into our friend Ariel’s bedroom.
I saw the familiar bar mitzvah invitation that hung from his wall, Ariel’s drawing of a super hero, a poem by Ariel, his beloved Transformers, our class picture from Yeshiva Gedolah, more seforim than I could ever imagine fitting into one room, and finally I saw Ariel’s wrist watch.
I have a thing for watches and I am usually able to remember who wears what time piece. Ariel’s watch is something that has always stayed vividly in my memory. It has a black leather band, a white face and a gold bezel. I looked at the watch, wanting to touch it, yet at the same time not wanting to.
The room looks much as it did when Ariel was alive, and I realized that time was standing still on Ariel’s wrist watch. I suppose over the last two years the battery has drained and aside for the watch being accurate twice a day, it just sits there.
I jump back two years and remember spending time in this room with my friend Ariel. I remember learning Torah with him on Shabbos afternoons, watching movies with him in the living room, eating a small snack in the kitchen, and schmoozing in the den. I remember the Sukkah party our classmates gave for Ariel in the front patio; we ate pizza, guzzled coke, told stories of our high school years. Memories are everywhere. The smells in the house trigger vivid memories, the doorbell chimes and even more memories come flooding into my consciousness.
One Shabbos afternoon Ariel, Robert and I were looking through a guns and ammo magazine. I did not know that Robert owned a gun and that he is something of a marksman. I never spoke about politics with Robert and I suppose I simply assumed that he was probably just another Hollywood Liberal. Those who know Robert will tell you that he is anything but. That Shabbos afternoon, we talked about the right to bear arms. Robert promised to take us all shooting one day–when Ariel was well enough..
Today, two years later, Robert took us shooting, just as he said he would.
Ariel ZT”L was a good friend to me and I love him very much. His picture sits on my desk and his memory will be with me forever
Ari Miller and Yehuda Kaplan attended Yeshiva Gedolah high school with Ariel. They remain beloved friends.