Dear friends, I wanted to share this beautiful tribute that my friend, Nancy Rothstein, sent to me to commemorate the 21st birthday of her son, Josh, who was tragically killed when he was 15. His 21st birthday would have been tomorrow, April 16th. Nancy writes to me:

After Josh was killed, I was seeking a way to offer a tribute for family and friends to honor his birthday. Out of such profound loss and sadness, I wanted to create something that would give people inspiration and help them find joy in the gift of life….while it is still theirs.

Josh answered by “communicating” to me…. just before his 17th birthday…”Ways to Celebrate Life.” Each birthday since, Josh has given me a “way” to add to his list. I hope that Josh inspires you to embrace and to celebrate life….and I know he would want you to have fun along the way.
In Memory of Josh Rothstein for his 21st Birthday, April 16, 2008
~~~April 16, 1987- October 7, 2002 ~~~

“21 Ways to Celebrate Life”

Milestone: A significant point in development.
Here on earth, a 21st birthday is observed as a milestone, a marker of transition when adulthood dawns with both intrigue and excitement, as well as the confirmation of childhood departed and responsibilities impending. Yet, when 21 is reached in a world beyond ours, where wisdom has been embraced and perspective is luminous, a message can be conveyed to use as a milestone…to enrich life…at any age.
As Josh’s 21st birthday arrives on April 16, 2007……as we continue to drift away from the day he died (at age 15½ after being struck by a car on a sidewalk on a Sunday afternoon) and towards an eternity he knows and we can only imagine…..a birthday gift was delivered to me from Josh’s generous spirit.…a treasure intended for all of us…..the “21st Way to Celebrate Life.” The message came, as I knew it would and I smiled with gratitude. The 21st Way had been revealed to me as the last line of a beautiful poem Josh communicated through me at his graveside 6 months after he died. I would have never thought to separate if from the whole, but Josh has asked that I do so and here it is for you……#21. Yet you must know that in the end, it is love’s garden you must tend.

To treasured family, friends and all with whom this message is shared, may we continue to honor Josh by celebrating life:
1. Smile. Smiling makes you and those around you feel good. If you don’t feel good, a smile can trick your brain into feeling better.
2. Eat ice cream.
3. Run on the beach. If you can’t physically do this, use your imagination.
4. Call someone who is ill or lonely. Listen to their story. Take the time. Tell them your story, if they ask.
5. Listen to music that touches your heart and soul.
6. Sing in the shower, or out loud if you are comfortable.
7. Visit the grave of a loved one and celebrate your continued BREATH. And tell your loved one what’s on your mind.
8. Play with a dog.
9. Thank yourself for putting up with all the things about yourself that drive you nuts! Activate your sense of humor!
10. Apologize to someone you have wronged in any way.
11. Take a day, or even a few hours, “off” to do something you always want to do but never take the time to do.
12. Eat something you never indulge in (unless allergic!) and savor every bite….slowly. No guilt permitted!
13. Re-watch your favorite funny or happy movie in your most comfortable clothes.
14. Make plans with 2 friends that you are crazy about but never see…near or far away.
15. Go outdoors to a natural setting. Sit. Close your eyes. Listen to the world. It’s all an extension of you! Your breath connects you intrinsically to the world.
16. Laugh. Do something fun or silly that evokes laughter. It has been said that laughter is God’s sunshine.
17. Place this list in an envelope and revisit it periodically to see how you are celebrating YOURSELF! If you are good to yourself, you can be much better to those around you.
18. Go to your heart and make all your decisions from there; and all will be well.
19. Follow the path that matters.
20. Believe and feel the change you want to see and you will BE the change you envision.
21. ….Yet you must know that in the end, it is LOVE’s garden you must tend.
What better way to honor Josh….and to capture the essence of the gift of life we are given to live….than to honor his 21st way to celebrate life. Tending love’s garden is not always easy. There are weeds to be removed, seeds to be sowed and water must flow. But with such nurturing comes beauty to be enjoyed, restoring our souls and blessing us with the reflections of our expressed love. Seasons change as does the garden, reminding us that nothing is permanent here on earth….and though a flower will die, love never does. That our bodies may die, but our souls are eternal.
Josh has given us a blueprint for happiness in his “21 Ways to Celebrate Life.” And I know, as he continues to assure me, that tending love’s garden is, in the end, the heart to a life fulfilled.
And so as gardens bloom this spring, may yours be filled with the colors of joy, contentment, faith and enthusiasm. And if the weeds of sorrow or adversity fill your days….may love and Light see you through to new buds filled with the promise of growth.
With gratitude and love to you for being in our garden, Steven, Caroline, Natalie and I wish you an abundance of beautiful blessings….and milestones,
♥ Nancy (a.k.a. Josh’s Mom)
© 2008. Nancy H. Rothstein
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