My grandmother died yesterday. She was 89 years old and had been ill, but I’m still sad. It’s funny how that works: even though logically I knew that it was inevitable, there’s still no way to anticipate the sadness, to deal with it early or reason yourself out of it. I’m sad. I miss my grandmother. There it is.
The good thing about the Jewish mourning process, though, is that it gives you plenty of things to do. So that although I’m feeling sad, it’s not all I’m feeling.
The funeral is tomorrow, and my family asked if I could arrange for some food to be at the house after the service to feed the mourners. So I called a caterer. Now, my parents had said to me that they didn’t want any smoked salmon as part of this meal – they feel it’s a festive food, the kind of food you’d have for a simcha and it’s simply not appropriate after a funeral.
This is how my conversation with the caterer went:
Me: So, I’m looking for some simple sandwich platters – cream cheese, tuna, egg, that sort of thing. And no smoked salmon.
Caterer: No smoked salmon?! But that’s everyone’s favourite! Let me tell you, the salmon goes faster than anything else.
Me: Yes, but my family don’t think it’s appropriate for after a funeral – it’s more of a simcha food.
Caterer: Salmon? A simcha food? It’s an everyday food! People eat it on weekdays, all the time!
Me: Well, possibly. But my parents have requested not to have salmon, and I’d like to respect their wishes.
Caterer: [pause] You know, this is a difficult time for your parents. They might not be thinking clearly. It’s up to you to convince them; they have to have salmon.
Me: [longer pause] OK. Well. Thank you for your time.
Salmon: it’s what’s important at a time of bereavement.
(In case you’re wondering, I subsequently called a different caterer who agreed to provide platters without salmon with no quibbling.)