“I saw Jesus,” my Dad told everyone who would listen in the months leading up to his death. I wonder if it was to make it real to himself, or to give us comfort after his passing.
Most of the customs of my people are pretty clear and widely known. For 7 days, the family sits in the home and receives mourners who come to visit, often bringing some food and their condolences. We cover the mirrors as a sign to forget vanity, refrain from showering and shaving, and remember the loved one with memories and fondness.
We live very, very far from anything in Israel and certainly far from relatives in other countries, so I did not expect a large turnout for the funeral or the Shiva. That was fine for us - just the family and local friends. My daughter came home from the army and another daughter stayed home from school. Quietly, we passed the 7 days of mourning.
Then, I heard from my Palestinians friends. They wanted to come; they wanted to visit – but how could they pass through the checkpoint and then endure another 4 hour drive? It seemed impossible.
It was fine for me that they not come. It was enough for me that they called and WANTED to come. Apparently, though, in Palestinian culture, it was inappropriate for them NOT to come and a group decided, with my permission, to stage a Shiva, closer to them in Jerusalem, upon my return to work.
While they were planning this visitation, I received dozens and dozens of phone calls and messages – all sweet and kind thoughts of myself, my family and my wonderful father. It is all very helpful to know that you’re not alone when you’re in your deepest sorrow and there are others praying for you and wanting to be next to you.
During this hour, my friends did not forsake me. In them, I saw Jesus too. Love you Dad.
Alice in Mourning