Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I had to go to a funeral yesterday (this is the fourth funeral, sadly, I have been to in as many months).

I know, when I say this to non-Jewish friends, they are often very sympathetic. And of course, going to a funeral is never fun. But when you're involved in a community, you go to a lot of funerals.

When I had a job-job, I did go to a funeral every so often; extended family, almost-aunts/uncles, people I'd grown up with. The way I grew up is, if you're close enough to be invited to someone's simcha (party/wedding/barmitzvah etc), then you're close enough for the "bad stuff." My boss was always, "yeah, right, of course, another funeral" and I think they were very convinced I was job hunting. Which I wasn't. But if you live in a community, where people are different ages, you know more people at different life stages than you, and that's how it goes. And I'd never lie about a job interview: I'd either make it at 7am, or take half a day's holiday.

Of course now my boss (me) is a little more laissez-faire. And also, I don't have to look for a job anymore. Unless my boss has plans for me that I don't know about. This split personality thing is really getting to me.

So a friend, sadly, lost his mum after a long illness. And I think it's truly part of living in a community that the people you see week-in, week-out, even if it's only in shul for five minutes (or in our case, on IM, as we are a little more virtual, although I do go to shul as well), they're the people who should be there when big lifecycle things happen.

When there's a shiva, you take food. It's about supporting people in tough times. And also, as we all know, food is love. When I was a teenager, some people from Cheadle, very sadly and tragically, lost their son in a car accident, he was a couple of years older than me. I remember that his mum said that her best friend wrote her a letter saying "I'm sure you'll want to be alone at this difficult time." But because she lived in Cheadle, lots of Jewish people she kinda-knew (school, rotas, etc) came round, visited, brought food.

And years later, she said to my mum "if someone dies now, I go round, and I know exactly what to do. I say to them, this is what Jewish people do, they take round a salmon."

As an almost-vegetarian, I have made chilli. A dressed salmon (cucumber slices for scales) is not quite my style. Also, I haven't had fish for a while, now.

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