There’s a concept in Judaism that doing something three times makes it a habit–hazakah–or at least a halakhic presumption. We went to a funeral two Sundays ago and again this past week. I don’t want to feel superstitious, but…
It looks like we’re skipping this week.
Life is tenuous at best, I know. They were both old, so that means something. But both very different.
The first one was a very sad funeral. Not because the person who died suffered in any particularly difficult way before he died. And he was a wonderful person to many people while he was alive . But there was a very difficult relationship within the family that, at least from an outsider’s perspective, could have been avoided.
Isn’t that always the way? We are so clear on reality from the outside.
But the family members who could have made things more difficult rose to the occasion and only looked for the best. And still I was sad that there had to be this show, but of course it wasn’t about me.
Family oftentimes is where you get stuck in behaviors that you realize bring out the worst in you and yet you know somehow don’t necessarily reflect at all how you work outside in the real world. It’s where you get to act out and show your worst, and then go out and rise to your best.
Of course, some of us get stuck thinking that inside is out.
At the second funeral, one of the relatives there told me to give regards to someone in my community who she knew growing up. She told me to say that she was the one that everybody can’t stand. Now. Does that make sense to you? I didn’t understand why she was basing who she is on her relative relationship.
Because it’s relative, after all.
But this funeral was not a sad one, even though there were many tears shed. And at the first one, none. Because at the second one, they were fortunate enough that the inside was out and there were no secrets, or at least none of any big big kind that mucked up the respect for the one who had died. I told this relative that I’ve been involved with more of these family experiences than I would have wanted, and I’ve seen a lot of serious drama, and believe me, your family has no drama.
She said to me, “Oh look! There’s so-and-so. I have to ask her about such-and-such.”
That was really okay. I was happy to unplug from that bit of soap opera.
I had thought I would write about my boots. [Update: I realized a bit after I originally wrote this that I did write about Holy Mud not that long ago, while I was still in Israel. I thought it felt familiar. But here I’m talking about my holy mud and not the grandkiddies.] I have expressed gratitude for my new waterproof boots here, but let me show them to you. They are a pair of waterproof boots from Rockport that came in spectacularly handy on my trip to Israel, with the snow and cold and all.
I wore these boots last week at the funeral. It was not cold out at all; in fact, I took my coat off. But the mud was thick and sludgy, a reasonable result of melting snow and the dirt that will be at a cemetery. Most people seemed not mind the mud. That meant that the men didn’t pay attention and the women mostly dressed as if they weren’t paying attention. Some of the ladies were very fashionable, with their high heeled booties matching their up-to-date black funeral outfits. This included the woman who thought that people didn’t like her.
Maybe the weather matched the setting; the family had a warm relationship, for the most part, towards each other, and a very deep admiration and lasting love for the man who had passed away. The week before, it was frigid. I wore my really warm Canadian boots.
I dressed for the setting. My boots gave me a good base; experience gave me good advice; things don’t stay on the inside as often as you’d like. Prepare to get muddy.