nothing, nothing worse

A Shiva for a 15-year-old son of a rabbi. I don't know them well, but I know it's time to pay respects.

Just now his mother is the person in the family who is strong. She tells us it was a virus, it took a week. She can describe what happened and what he said and did before he died. She can even thank us for stopping by, the cautious neighbors who studied the internet to make sure they don't make some sort of mistake in manners. (Don't speak until you are greeted. Don't knock, just walk in. Don't bring food.)

I suppose the formal rules help, but one fact won't go away: There's nothing worse. That must be universal.

When I got home, I hugged my 15-year-old son who squawked and struggled. Thank goodness. If he'd hugged me back I'd still be crying.


  1. What a nightmare - You're right - hug your son even if he squawks.
    Off to cry now.

  2. Blinking back my own tears, here. Hug 'em all, Kate. I'll be squeezing mine as soon as she gets home from school.

    How awful. My thoughts are with the family.

  3. I remember something from med school, when I took my pediatric clinical rotation -- a teenage girl from an Orthodox Jewish family who died from meningitis. She wasn't even my patient, but her death still haunts me. Yup, this is the absolute worst.

  4. Oh, no. Oh. Oh, so terrible.

    Good on you all for checking the Internet for shiva rules--that's so smart. I have to remember that.


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