Fall in love with someone. Get your heart broken. And then move on and fall in love again. Breathe life every day like it is your first. Try not to forget me.
Those are some of the last words Andrew Driscoll Pochter wrote before he was killed last month, while living in Egypt teaching English to elementary school children.
The words were in a letter he had written, dated June 10, to a camper he had mentored. His sister, 23-year-old Emily Pochter, read the letter aloud to the almost 700 mourners who gathered in the nave of the Washington National Cathedral for her brother’s funeral service on an unseasonably gray and chilly Friday.
In addition to his sister, Pochter is survived by his father, Theodore Pochter, and mother, Elizabeth Driscoll Pochter. The family still lives in Chevy Chase.
Raised in Chevy Chase, Pochter graduated from the Blue Ridge School in Charlottesville, Va., and was going to enter his junior year at Kenyon College this fall.
He had turned 21 just a month before he was stabbed in the streets of Alexandria, amongst the tumult of the riots that swept Egypt.
But in the grand space of the National Cathedral, he was remembered as a young man wise and compassionate beyond his years.
“I was glimpsing a great soul,” said the Rev. David McIlhiney, the chaplain at his boarding school, when he spoke of Pochter at the service. “So eager to understand the whole world in all its complexity.”
He recounted the story of reading Pochter’s college admissions essay, which described how the young man discovered a 500-pound loggerhead turtle on a beach in South Carolina and watched, for hours, as she gave birth.
“Right away I knew there was something special, even something holy, about this young man,” McIlhiney said.
The Blue Ridge School has been swamped by tributes to Pochter, McIlhiney said.
“They all share a theme,” he said. “There was something remarkable about Andrew.”
Rabbi Hannah L. Goldtsein, of Temple Sinai, read the Kaddish Yatom, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning. It was a reflection on Pochter’s recent interest in his Jewish heritage. Born of a Christian mother and a Jewish father, Pochter was raised Christian. But while at college he delved into Judaism, even becoming one of the co-leaders of Hillel, an on-campus Jewish group.
The Rev. Rosemarie L. Duncan of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, the church in which Pochter was raised, was also an officiant as was the Rev. Gina Gilland Campbell, of the Washington National Cathedral.