Wednesday, December 22, 2004

dont judge a book by the cover....

(This post is meant only as a description of events. It is not meant to be critical of anyone. Obviously, this is not a description of usual shiva as seen in traditional circles. However, now is not the time to be critical of the dearly departed.)

I went to the shiva house last night. Ma'ariv was scheduled for 7:30, but I made a wrong turn and was 10 minutes late. The lights were on, the bows and wreaths shimmered, and the tree decorations shone through the open curtains. Um, guess I forgot to mention that my friend had remarried a non-Jewish woman. I had heard rumors she was considereing converting, but obviously she hadn't. We davened ma'ariv facing the stockings hung on the fireplace. The rabbi led services, and had all the mourners recite kaddish. Afterwards, everyone milled about, talking in soft voices. I went over to the widow who I knew pretty well(she was the nurse in the office my partner had worked in) and offered my condolences. We talked for a little bit. I think she will do ok. I gave her a slightly altered English version of ha'Makom. More people wanted to talk to her, so I moved on. I looked for his parents, but I didn't know them and was having trouble matching what people looked like all bundled up at the funeral, and here. It seemed rude to ask random people, "are you one of the first degree relatives?" Worse, I get very shy in social situations like these. Unfortunately, no one was sitting on little stools, waiting for us to line up and offer them rote consolation. I felt like getting up on a chair, and in a really loud voice asking "will the mourners PLEASE sit on the little stools like you are supposed to so I can say HaMakom to someone Jewish!" Finally, I found my partner's father, and was able to discharge my duties. He was still tremendously broken up, and clearly hadn't reconciled himself to what had happened. He wanted to talk about his son, and I was able to tell him a few things, and relate a few events that seemed to cheer him up a bit. I wound up spending a fair amount of time with him. My wife's father, who has unfortunately officiated at many many funerals, tells me that the worst ones are when a parent has to bury their child. In my limited experience that has held true. I dont know what else I can do to make him feel better, but I am going to try to make Ma'ariv again tonight.

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