These days everyone's talking about the national Arik – the statesman, the military man, the strategist, the builder of the land, the politician. But what touches everyone more is the private Arik.
For seven years I walked by Arik Sharon's side in all the many events he took part in. And then another eight years. A lifetime. I can write countless pages about what I learned from him in the professional sense and in many other senses. But I would like to talk about what I learned from him on the personal level, which was the most important to him: Being a human being.
Being a human being is the smile he gives you, the sarcastic remark, the deep questions about every detail in my life and in my family's life, noticing every single look or concern, as well as the joyful moments.
Being a human being is seeing the pain, and there was a lot of pain around him during the difficult years of the Intifada, and looking people in the eyes, feeling their pain, carrying it on his back and sharing their difficulty with them. Being a human being is entering the other person's mind and trying to understand what he should understand.
In the past eight years I stayed by his side and mainly by his family's side. Every time someone asked me how he was doing, part of my heart ached and another part went on believing that this man, who is still fighting, will return to us. Nothing prepares you for the moment of farewell, and it's difficult saying goodbye.
In the difficult moments I reminded myself that the private legacy Arik left us – not just the national one – is to continue being a human being.
Erez Halfon served as an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from 20001 to 2006