As I stood in a room full of people gathered to remember Brody Huber at his Celebration of Life, I was taken by surprise to learn he had the same birthday as the son of my synagogue’s Rabbi, Koby Gruenwald.
Standing in that room, listening to friends and family talk about what a wonderful person Brody was, I couldn’t help but think of how I had watched Koby go through a similar process of diagnosis, treatment, Koby’s bar mitzvah celebration, and finally his funeral.
I also started to think about the life lessons we could all learn from these two boys, because they not only shared the same birthday, but the same diagnosis, they were close in age when they passed, and they did so within months of each other.
I felt I wanted to share their stories with you.
Creating light in the darkness.
Koby was a light in the darkness. He could light up a room. He had energy and joy by the buckets! Koby loved to sing and dance (hip hop). At the HEA there is a musical service called Shir Hadash where all the prayers are sung instead of led by the cantor. It’s a beloved and fun service that most people enjoy very much.
When Koby was going through treatment at The Children’s Hospital (TCH) of Colorado he spent time at The Seacrest Studios at TCH singing his favorite tunes. I remember one of his favorite songs was Hallelujah, one of mine as well.
Koby had many friends and was loved by all in the community. Anything that was for Koby always involved rain. Lots of it. In a memorial ride for Koby, riders were soaked by rainfall and pelted by hail. The ride was the TourdeKoby started by his brother Micah as an adjunct to the Courage Classic, a bike ride benefiting TCH and specifically the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Koby’s sense of humor will always be remembered.
Spreading love in the world.
Brody was all about spreading love in the world. He wanted other kids around him to feel good and he was a joy for the adults in his life to be around too. Brody was very thoughtful of others and wanted to save others from feeling pain. I especially loved the story his mom, Tina, told about Brody bringing home an extra book for her to read with him (whatever they were reading at school). Where other kids didn’t want to do it, Brody loved having that connection with her.
He loved spending time with his older brother, Griffin, and they were pretty much inseparable. They road mountain bikes for their school team, they went to sleepovers together, they were as Griffin put it, a BOGO (buy one get one). They were the best of friends.
And he loved doing all the outdoor things with his father, Jeff, and the rest of the family. As Jeff recounted, Brody loved hiking, biking, camping, skiing,… anything that had to do with being outside.
In a video audition for Denver School of the Arts, Brody and some special friends made a video about spreading love in the neighborhood. Every person that spoke at his Celebration of Life spoke of the love he infused every space with.
Another thing Brody was known for was his sense of humor. Brody had a favorite joke he loved to tell. It’s a pretty funny joke and he told it right up until two weeks before he passed.
The gifts Koby and Brody left for us.
First I think about the love and kindness both boys exhibited in their time here on this earth. They brought peace, joy, and beauty to all who knew them.
In her new book, author and painter, Mindy Weisel recounts that her mother, a Holocaust survivor, used to say we are obligated to find beauty in the world. That is really something coming from someone who lost and suffered so much.
Koby and Brody found so much beauty in life and left us those lessons too.
Another thing they both had in common is love for their dogs. Caring for a beloved animal is a real sign of selflessness. They depend so much on us for everything they need.
Share their lessons of life on Thanksgiving.
The lessons they left us aren’t things. They showed us that sharing music, being kind to one another, making people laugh and having a sense of humor, and spreading love are important things in life. However you choose to spend Thanksgiving, I hope you will take some of the life lessons Koby and Brody left for us and share them with others in your life. Create the ripple effect that will keep the memories of Koby and Brody alive.
If you want to contribute in their memory, you can make donations to:
The Koby Gruenwald Light in the Darkness Fund (Choose Koby’s Light in the Darkness Fund)
The Brody Huber Foundation
The Tour de Koby c/o Courage Classic, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
Here are some of my favorite moments from this episode:
- 4:20 Creating a ripple effect from the gifts Koby and Brody left us.
- 4:30 The story of Koby Gruenwald.
- 8:03 Tour de Koby, Wheels of Justice, the Courage Classic, Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at TCH.
- 9:43 The story of Brody Huber.
- 14:30 Bringing love and kindness into the world.
- 15:20 We are obligated to find beauty in life.
- 16:48 The life lessons Koby and Brody left for us.
- 17:16 Laughter is the best medicine.
A new episode is released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.
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