A Slow Return
Bagels. Rolls. Hard-boiled Eggs. Nahit. Served at the Seudat Havra’ah, the round shapes are to remind us of the cyclical nature of life. Furthermore, eggs are a reminder of life and hope (Orakh Chayim 552:3). All that lives must die and these symbolic representations remind us of this inevitability.
The most intense period of mourning is known as shiva. It is commonly thought to last for seven days after the burial, but that is not an accurate understanding. In counting the days, our Tradition follows the principle of considering a fraction of a day as a complete day. The day of the burial counts as the first full day even though burial may have been later in the day. Also, the seventh, and final, day is not an entire day. Observing shiva for sixty minutes on the morning of that final day is sufficient.
The process of emerging from the intensity of this seven-day period is just that. It is a process. Having withdrawn from life to mourn a loved one, the time comes when one must be gently guided back towards a new normal. Tradition has the mourner cross the threshold, walk around the block, and return home. Home to what was once the house of mourning.
Our home was not the house of mourning. And Frume Sarah is too superstitious to engage in behaviours that might catch the attention of the Malakh HaMavet. So no morning shpatzir for the Frummies. Yet we had to mark the end of this sadness in some meaningful way.
I explained to the children that we were having a special treat for breakfast to signify our attempt to reenter life without GGma. A treat loved by GGma. And one that symbolized the circle of life.
Peach shared this with his beloved teacher.
My GGma died. I got a chocolate doughnut.
I wonder if this is what the prophet meant when he comforted:
Your sun will not go down again,
your moon will not depart;
for the Eternal One will be your Light forever,
and your days of mourning will be ended.