90% of life is just showing up

A good friend mine’s sister died. She was very young. Both my friend and her sister were diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. My friend’s cancer is in remission, but unfortunately her sister past away. Its incredibly tragic, she was young with 2 young children.

They were having a shiva at the parents’ house were they grew up.  I had never been to one before so I asked Virgin and Sue what to bring. They suggested a fruit basket. So wanting to be a good shiska, I headed to Whole Foods. Guess what? No fruit baskets at Whole Foods. Not even a sympathy card. No help at all. So I panicked and bought some cookies that had the kosher sign.

But as I was driving over to the parents’ house, I thought the little cookies looked cheap and sad. I didn’t want to be the girl who bought the cheap cookies so I decided to try a bakery. It occurred to me that I don’t remember a single food item that people brought over when my mom died. But I do remember that the next-door neighbor brought a ham. Mostly because she made a BIG stink about the expensive ham she gave us. But I was undaunted.  I was sure that I could find a kosher deli.

So I run around Brookline looking for kosher cookies and find a whole bunch of “kosher style but not actually kosher” delis. Who knew? It also occurred to me that my friend celebrated Christmas so she couldn’t possibly be that observant, but I was determined.

Meanwhile, I haven’t eaten lunch and I’m starving so I break into the Whole Foods cookies. Now I really can’t bring those. I am calling Virgin in LA to get her take on the cookie situation. Finally, I find a real kosher deli and ask for some cookies. I thought they would put them into a pretty pink box, but they didn’t. It was a cheap plastic container. They looked worse than the Whole Food cookies.

I know that it didn’t really matter, but then it dawns on me that I was getting so caught up in this because it’s a wake. The whole situation reminded me of when my mom and dad died. The quiet, hushed way everyone starts talking to you, the cliches that fly out of everyone’s mouth, because really, what do you say? I hate it. I hate death. But I knew I needed to show up, even if I was uncomfortable. So I grabbed what was left of the cookies and I showed up.

My friend was happy to see me.




7 thoughts on “90% of life is just showing up

  1. Good for you for showing up. Death definitely creates an awkwardness. There’s awkwardness in what to say, what to bring, what to do, what to wear. And yet all that realy maters is that you showed up. Well done.

  2. wow- so tragic. I can’t imagine what young kids experience when a parent dies. I never know what to say at funerals/wakes either because there is nothing we can say that will ease the pain. But I guess it’s an important thing to show up to help others cope and support their mourning.

  3. that’s so sad.
    no wonder you got caught up in what to take,
    the distraction would help with the hurt.
    glad you were there for your friend.

  4. I’m always so sorry to hear of any loss. It’s good that you were there for your friend.

    (side note) There’s a great Israeli butcherie (sp?) in the Coolidge Corner area, it’s on Harvard Street. I believe that it’s fully kosher. Some friends have really observant family who visit from Israel and they always get their food from there. Also, surprisingly enough, J.P. Licks can be a good source of stuff.

    Like you said, though, no one ever remembers the food you bring, just that you were there.

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