July 11th, 2002

Mama Deb

May You be Comforted

In the middle of this period of national/religious mourning comes...personal mourning. To be precise, last night a friend of mine called to say that his wife was sitting shiva for her father. That means she's in the first seven days of mourning for him. As she lives close by, and since her husband said that they weren't telling many people, I knew I had to pay her a call. I would anyway, it being a mitzvah to comfort the mourners, but this felt even more important.

As a mourner isn't allowed to care for herself, much less other people, I bought food for the family - a half dozen mini-calzones because I have no imagination and, it being the Nine Days, meat was out of the question. I figured her husband could toss them in an oven or a microwave, and they'd freeze well.

She's also not allowed to greet anyone, or get up to meet them or escort them out. This is very difficult. She feels rude, but she's allowed to be rude. In the first few days, this is actually fine. All she wants to do is sit there, be taken care of, be...a mourner. But by the end of the week, she wants to be up and doing things. I know I felt that way, and I think that's one of the best effects of shiva - it makes you want to be part of the world to some extent.

We, the mourner and I, speak a similar language for all she's ten years older. We both come from non-religious backgrounds, so I knew what questions not to ask. We're both science fiction fans. We're both therefore familiar with the concept of chosen family. I'm not going to say we're especially close, but we *are* friends. When I moved, they would have had us over for every holiday and Sabbath meal if we'd needed it. However, we'd chosen an area full of friends and chosen family, so we didn't have to impose.

Most of her local friends aren't SF fans, and most were raised religious. While there is the language of the religious that they, and I, share, we're both still in some ways outsiders. I think she needed another woman with whom she can *talk* and who would understand all the issues, from the need for a good rabbi - she has a wonderful one - to why we don't hang around our houses in robes on Shabbat.

But to have it this time of year is strange. Everyone else is mourning, too, but she's mourning personally, and while she gets up on Sunday, Thursday is TB"A again. Gd has a reason for this, but it's still odd.

edited to get rid of bad formatting and to add that the title is part of the ritual phrase one says when taking one's leave of a mourner: "May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."
Mama Deb

Readercon I

Before the con. :)

Given the various strictures this time of year, this is about the only convention we could attend - it's all *books* and *writing*. Just a couple of big bid parties, which tend to be quiet, the con suite, and fascinating panels. No filking, which I can't go to, no room parties. A nice, quiet Sercon with several hundred writers and editors.

We're leaving tonight in my newly rented Nissan Sentra. The black one, not the blue one. I was going to get the blue one, but it was wet inside, so they gave me the black one that was being returned just then. It was clean, and the gas tank was almost full. We'll spend the night someplace in Connecticut. And Jonathan is even now buying a small tape player because the car only has a CD player and, as we're not listening to music, we want to hear lectures instead. We have a series of talks on the Three Weeks.

I'll report on the con when I get back.