The first thing I noticed this shabbos was the absence of Bracha. Then how Mazal was tentatively exploring the places that had been Bracha's: the spot to my right on the little salmon sofa: could she sit there now? The one food bowl where there had been two: could she have all that space for herself?
The second thing I noticed was that the wind had dismantled the sukkah almost completely. I managed to restore the walls, somewhat; but there was no way to replace all the s'chach that had blown off. It was still a kosher sukkah with just the bamboo poles: still more shade than sun. But just barely. By the time friends came to lunch, the sukkah was passable, but only just.
I still feel the melancholy of Bracha's death and burial; but I do not doubt that this was the right time: by now she was suffering too greatly. ***************
I had been called to be present at a tahara, the preparation of a body for burial, for the first time. My friend had brought her mother from Florida to live here after the death of her husband of 50+ years. She quickly became ill herself, and had just died. I left the goodbye-concert of a young man in our community, and went to the mortuary. It turned out that the extra pair of hands were needed, as well as someone to read the material that keeps us focused on our respect for and gratitude to the body for having been a vehicle for her soul in this lifetime. It requires great concentration to maintain the holy intent of accompanying the body towards the grave, voicing gratitude for its having served as a vehicle for the soul in this lifetime, freeing the soul by bringing closure and gratitude and perspective.
In such a short time this shabbos: hellos, goodbyes, the impermanence of the sukkah, the fleeting impermanence of a lifetime, proportionately whether a cat, or an older woman leaving children, grandchildren, a great-grandchild. It does give me pause: what do I have enough time left to do? Good night...