We've been asked to relate a story about our friend Amir, and, in keeping with Jewish custom during the month of Nissan, will focus on celebrating Amir's life.
Those of us who knew Amir know that no eulogy or anecdote--no matter how pithy or exemplary--could possibly distil his essence. Amir's magnificence was, and will always be, larger than words, his measure more fully felt than thought, his totality better represented in the broken hearts of the people who today fill the shul to honor and say goodbye to him. So please accept these few words as a modest attempt to share a small, but meaningful, part of the Amir that we know and love.
By 8th grade, Amir had firmly established his intellectual prowess. He casually used words like "victual" and "asunder;" had mastered world-domination games like Axis & Allies; had taken, and scored well on, the SAT's; knew "basic" computer language; and had written reams of short stories, all the while innocently assuming that his friends were as smart and productive as he was. But we weren't. As it turned out, many of Amir's closest friends were sports-lovers. And while he was reading his dog-eared copy of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, we were off playing sports, specifically basketball. Realizing that athletics served as a more likely common ground between him and his friends than literature, Amir took it upon himself to learn the one thing he hadn't--basketball. He asked his father to put a hoop up in the driveway, traded in his Velcro sneakers for high-tops, folded up his glasses, and bought a Spalding. As in everything he did, Amir was a quick study. Months of dedicated practice showed Amir and his friends that, indeed, he was an athlete. But for Amir it wasn't enough to simply play the game; Amir wanted to make the Moriah school team. Sure enough, after two grueling tryouts, Amir was issued a uniform and a schedule--he had made the squad.
It's only a small story, but it illustrates one of Amir's greatest qualities--his remarkable passion for self-improvement, a passion he demanded of, and inspired in, his friends. Amir knew his friends' weaknesses and, quietly and sensitively, challenged us to confront and overcome them. We, his lucky friends, have been shaped by him, taught by him, touched by him, moved by him, and made better by him, and we will carry him (and his perfect laugh) in our hearts wherever we go.
--Ben Prager and Mikey Allen, 3/28/04
In Memory of Amir Lopatin