Thursday I received an email from my synagogue informing the community that a friend had died, completely unexpectedly. Our friend was fit and strong a nice, nice man who has been a central part of my synagogue community.
Our synagogue provides meals for mourners. In some synagogues that means a one size fits all deli tray is delivered to the Shiva house. My synagogue enlists members to provide meals. If you home is kosher you cook, if your home isn't kosher you either purchase the food at one of the local kosher markets or cook at the home of a friend who keeps kosher.
I had volunteered to make a lasagna. I bought the cheeses on the way home from my friend's funeral. I got home and made the pasta for the lasagna.
As I rolled out the noodles I thought about my friend. My friend was a psychotherapist. He often passed on encouraging words to me when I was in the thick of caring for little kids. I thought about how despite being a man whose work was cerebral, how he stayed close to his working man roots. He fished, he built stuff and he exercised.
I assembled layer after layer of the lasagna and thought about my friend's stories about being his grandfather's roommate while he was in his 20's. I remembered his description of the first time he laid eyes on his wife.
I thought about my friend as a loving step-father and father and grandfather. I thought about his deep enthusiasm for--everything.
The deep pan my husband bought was finally filled with four layers of noodles and tomato and cheeses. It was heavy.
I put it in the oven and baked the lasagna and my love and my sadness and my memories. In a couple of days my friend's family will get the lasagna and consume my love and my grief.
Food from a store can taste good.
During my mother in law's Shiva a friend brought over a curried squash soup that she served with pomegranate seeds. That soup was made with comfort.
When my father in law died my dear friend made us two hundred tea sandwiches. They went down like baby food. We all ate and ate those tiny pretty sandwiches that were filled with tuna and cucumber and eggs and love. Each one helped us to remember that despite our loss, we were loved and we would heal.
Some condolences come in the form of words. Others come in the form of food and become part of our bodies.
The physical labor of making this lasagna has also given me comfort for the loss of my friend.