“Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo.”
“I did not exist… I existed… I exist not… I don’t care!” That simple Latin motto can be found all over the gravestones of ancient Rome. It’s from the philosopher Epicurus.
He reasoned that there was nothing to fear in death because, when it comes, we are no longer around to suffer. Worrying about dying, Epicurus argued, is as illogical as worrying about the world before we were born into it. Put simply, Epicurus did not have patience for the idea of a hereafter. He was a believer in the here and now!
In that respect, he had much in common with Jewish attitudes throughout the ages—and with that warmest of Jews, a man who had a lot of attitude: our beloved Sheldon.
In the two years since Sheldon left us, I’ve done a great deal of thinking about mortality. I’ve done a great deal of reading, too—including about Epicurus. But coming across “Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo,” all I could think was, “You never knew Sheldon!” Had Epicurus jumped forward in time 2,300 years to meet my husband, he would have had to come up with a different motto.
Because Sheldon did worry about the world that preceded his birth—those long centuries in which Jews were persecuted, without a homeland to protect them. And he dedicated his life to changing that for good. Not for nothing are we gathered here, at the Mount of Olives: Sheldon rests forever in the heart of a reunited Jerusalem, the capital of a reborn Israel—both of which gained such strength and glory from his contributions.
And while he knew that he would die one day—as do we all—Sheldon made sure to secure his own kind of afterlife.
I don’t mean that metaphysically—though I sincerely believe my soul will be reunited with his, one day, in a better place. No: What I mean is that, by creating so many magnificent businesses, by generating funds for charities of unprecedented scale and duration, Sheldon is survived not just by us—his loving family and friends—but by countless others, all over the world.
In each of them, his spirit lives on. In each grateful employee who had the means to raise a happy and healthy family thanks to Sheldon’s generous management; in each needy person who was spared poverty, given the opportunity of an education or of elder care thanks to Sheldon’s philanthropy; in each sick person who may one day be cured thanks to the Adelson Medical Research Foundation; in each young Jew—hundreds of thousands of them!—who discovered Israel thanks to Birthright; in each Israeli or American who is safer and walks prouder thanks to Sheldon’s promotion of these two great nations.
So many people. So many lives, different but intertwined. I think of them… and I think of flying over Macau, with Sheldon, and seeing the Pearl River Delta—a grand waterway splitting into an infinity of others as it left the Chinese mainland and met the sea.
Sheldon was a “delta” too. His energy and vision and genius were so powerful that they will never stop flowing. Nor will my love for him. It flows still to Sheldon when we meet in my memories and dreams. And it flows to you all—his children and grandchildren, his friends who reflected his values and dynamism. Thank you all for being here today. Thank you all for coming together so marvelously over the last two years. In each of you is the blessing that was Sheldon.
Dr. Miriam Adelson, M.D., is a specialist in chemical dependency and drug addiction. She is the publisher of “Israel Hayom.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.