Eitan had a great last day on Earth, Wednesday, February 13, 2013. In the morning, he had an appointment with his adviser, Karen Donno, who we had met the previous April when we visited the school. I had been after him to check with the university regarding possible summer internships, and they discussed that, along with his schedule for next year. (Karen wrote to me, “Eitan’s wonderful life should be shouted from the rooftops. His legacy of joy will remain on our campus always.”) Later that morning, he called a neurologist at university health services, and put in a request for an appointment. He had been having seizures with more frequency.
In the afternoon, he had Introduction to Business Law– the first class in his major that he was really beginning to enjoy. His professor, Shannon DeRouselle, wrote, “I see so many students each semester; while all are very special, few stand out. Eitan did. I shared only a month with him as his instructor this semester, but our class met three times per week. I could always count on Eitan’s participation during lectures, knowing that he was watching with an inquisitive eye and would without hesitation question me if I said something that he disagreed with or that did not make sense. He did just that in fact last Wednesday afternoon during our last class together. I appreciated his engagement in my class. I will miss Eitan, as I am certain all of his classmates will as well.”
Eitan had supper with a group of floormates that evening, then headed to the AEPi house. They were there for a quiz, the coordinator Kenny Esman told me. Pledges had to know the names, hometowns, and majors of all their pledge brothers. “Eitan did really well,” Kenny said. Eitan attended Camp Avoda for eight years, which always seemed like a kind of brotherhood, a fraternity, to me. He had long wanted to join a frat, and the laid-back frat system at UMiami appealed to him. “I’m a pledge for AEPi,” he had told me happily when he got in a few weeks before.
After the quiz, Eitan hung out at the frat house playing video games – another thing he has long loved to do. He and his brother Gabriel played on all the Nintendo systems from when they were young (yeah, yeah, video games baaad – but their dad loved to play too – our first Nintendo system was Jeff’s after all!), and it was something he enjoyed with his friends in high school, and college too. He played with a pledge brother for a few hours, and then they walked back to the dorm – his friend said they arrived around 1:30 in the morning.
Back in the room, he hung out with his roommate Reid for a bit, then settled back on his bed to watch American Dad on his laptop – as he wrote in his English notebook the week before, “When I need to relax, I go to my bed and pop on some Netflix.” He was also munching on a bag of Doritos. Reid told me he was trying to sleep, but the sound of the crinkling bag kept him up – it was close to 3 a.m. at this point. “Dude, could you pour them into a bowl or something?” he asked. Eitan laughed, said no problem.
Sometime during the early hours of Valentine’s Day, a seizure took Eitan’s life.
I miss Eitan profoundly, but it is comforting to know he spent his last day doing exactly the things he liked to do, and at the same time was planning for the future, enjoying his life to the very fullest.