I’m glad I didn’t listen to you on this one, Mom

For years, Mom told us that she wanted as small a funeral as possible — just us, the Rabbi, and as few other people as necessary to have a minyan so that we could recite the Kaddish. And every time she said it, we always told her that we were going to ignore that particular wish.

We did.

Mom’s funeral was this afternoon. We would have had enough people for a minyan just between the immediate family and the Rabbi, but there were more than a hundred people there.

Of course the family was there — and Mom’s neighbors and friends from Carriage Hill and elsewhere in Richmond — and her colleagues from Ethyl — and my brother’s friends and colleagues and neighbors — and even some childhood friends of my brother’s and mine. There were friends and relatives I see on most visits, people I hadn’t seen for years, and people I met for the first time today. And I’m sure there were people I didn’t meet at all.

The service itself was short; the Rabbi’s hesped was on target (he said it was due to the wonderful material my brother and I gave him), and two of Mom’s grandchildren added their own remembrances.

Then it was time to actually bury Mom. I put the first shovel of dirt into the grave, followed by my brother.

It wasn’t until we recited the Mourner’s Kaddish that I started crying. I’ve said the Kaddish before, of course; in fact, it’s the custom at Shir Hadash for the whole congregation to join the mourners in the recitation, so I say it nearly every week. And sometimes, I’ve said it for my uncle or my grandfather on the occasion of their Yarzheit. But this time, I wasn’t just saying the Kaddish as part of the congregation or as a comforter — this time, I was a principal mourner, and now I’m obligated to say the Kaddish for Mom for the rest of my life (though, of course, not every day of the rest of my life).

After the service, we stayed around for a few minutes and talked with people before returning to the house for the seudat ha-havra’ah. Not everyone came who’d been at the funeral, but we still had a houseful, and a good time was had by all (if you ignore the occasion). And then we had the first shiva minyan, and yet more talking — and eventually, everyone left.

I’ve taken off my suit jacket, but I’m still wearing the kriah ribbon, which I’ll continue to wear throughout shiva. And I have a shiva candle to bring home with me and light there (we have one burning here, of course).

So Mom, I’m glad we didn’t honor your wishes on the funeral; I know that the people who came out to honor you would have felt left out if we’d had a private ceremony, and that wouldn’t have been right. And all of your worries about making people come out on a lousy day? We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather — about 70 degrees, with just enough clouds to keep people from being dazzled. How did you arrange that?

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