‘I was trying to prevent this day’
THE mother of 11-year-old autistic boy Alex Raichman, who died tragically after being struck by a train on Sunday night, said she had "tried to prevent this day from happening".
In a moving tribute at Alex's funeral in Sydney, Sharon Braverman described the challenges and rewards of living with a severely autistic son who could not talk but loved "running free".
"Up until a year ago, we could still have outings," she told about 200 friends and family gathered at the Chevra Kadisha Memorial Hall in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
With the body of her son in a coffin draped with a black cloth bearing a gold Star of David, Ms Braverman said since that time "at home everything was locked".
"Looking back, I now realise a lot of what I did was trying to prevent this day from happening," she said.
"I have been terrified of this day for the last few years.
"I couldn't keep you completely safe and completely happy at the same time.
"All the biting, pushing, kicking and watching guard so you didn't run off.
"I would do it … a thousand times, any time, anywhere if I could kiss your lovely fuzzy head again."
Ms Braverman said she was sorry that events had led to the end of Alex's life.
"You were, are and always will be everything to me, just everything, my sweet little Alexie," she said.
"It was the greatest honour and privilege of my entire life to be your mother."
Ms Braverman, her husband Dale Raichman and a rabbi all remembered the boy who loved chasing pigeons, eating chicken and pasta bakes and "smelling people he loved".
The mother recalled how Alex, who was diagnosed as autistic at 20 months, couldn't talk but had taught her to appreciate simple things.
"I could always understand your eyes," she said in her eulogy to her son.
The rabbi officiating at the service praised Ms Braverman and Mr Raichman for putting in "a superhuman effort to watch over" the handsome young boy who had "Sydney's best eyelashes".
"Sharon and Dale arranged the necessary support and over the last 11 years devoted their lives to taking care of Alex … looking out for all the dangers and challenges.
"They could only do so much and in respite care … things were beyond their control.
"You were the very best parents Alex could have wished for. You kept him alive for 11 years.
"We honour you as special parents."
Mr Raichman read a poem he head written on behalf of his son who now had "no pain" and was "free forever".
Three rabbis said prayers in Hebrew and English for Alex, who will be laid to rest at Botany cemetery this afternoon.
A special service will be conducted at Maroubra Synagogue on tonight.
It is four days since the tragedy unfolded after Alex ran away from respite care facility Civic Disability Services in the southern Sydney suburb of Oatley about 7.15pm.
Alex was in respite care as his family took a planned vacation.
After he ran away, a desperate wide-scale search was made by emergency services, Oatley locals and members of Sydney's Jewish community.
Shortly before 9.30pm, it was confirmed that Alex had been found at Oatley railway station, having been hit by an oncoming train.
His aunt Shellie Braverman posted on Facebook a thankyou to the "beautiful souls for sending love to my family", saying "your community holds me in one piece".
She told Sydney's Jewish News that her nephew was "a blessing".
"He touched everyone with his adventurous spirit, love of fun. He had a remarkable way of rediscovering the seemingly mundane. The depth and breadth of our love for him is eternal," she said.
Facebook group the Sydney Friendship Circle is raising funds to support Alex's family via a page on raisely.com. It has raised more than $45,000 so far.