My apologies if this post seems a bit mixed up and all over the place, but that's how things have been lately for us.
While we were in Toronto a few weeks ago after the unexpected passing of my brother in law Daniel, we were greeted with loads of food, as is customary in the Jewish religion. Without going into a whole cultural lesson here I'll give you the key points to the Jewish mourning customs. The Rabbi who performed the funeral service explained it quite eloquently, I assure you that I will mess up her lovely words in some way, but the gist of it is this...
Though difficult and challenging, in Judaism we surround those who are morning with a supportive community and we do not allow them to hide away in their grief. Instead we support them and provide a communal context of family and friends during their difficult mourning period. We bring food and sit Shiva with those who have lost someone dear to them. We then have rituals that we perform throughout the year that help us through the grieving process. We do not allow mourners to retreat into segregation and disappear into loneliness, even though this may be their initial desire.
|Abisaac (Left), myself and the loving Daniel (right)|
at our wedding in 2009.
During our initial mourning period, people came over to the house bringing us food and showing their support to the entire family. As you can just imagine, this is not the time to be questioning if the foods are gluten free or asking about ingredients being used. At least I didn't feel right about asking those questions.
Now, you might be expecting me to say that I simply ate whatever there was and suffered the consequences (aka stomach troubles) but in fact I did no such thing. Firstly, even though it was a terrible time for everyone and there truly was no way of making it any better, it seemed that the whole family was concerned about what I was going to be able to eat; as if this were something really important. I however, did not share in this concern. I knew that I would manage and that my dietary restrictions need to be a concern for anyone else but me. I'll admit there were a few times when my options were fairly limited, but on the whole I did not care so much. Thank goodness I wear an insulin pump, that's for sure. It certainly made managing my type 1 diabetes a whole lot easier given the odd timing of meals and the uncertainty about what was going to be eaten, but I digress, that's not the point here.
The point is that I/we have some wonderful friends and family. These friends and family were there not only to show their support and unquestionable love for each of us, but also to ensure that I (the pain in the butt that I am) had gluten free options to eat during this difficult time. We are so blessed to have such great friends and to have so many people who love and care about us.
Understandably there are no pictures to share, but I will tell you about a few lovely gluten free meals and sweets that were provided while we were sitting Shiva. A great friend brought me my own gluten free honey cake made by Katz Gluten Free (as it is customary to eat foods sweetened with honey to mark the new year- Rosh Hashana- which fell at the same time as Daniel's passing). We had chicken soup with matzo balls and special for me the matzo balls were prepared separately and everyone's soup serving was made up just for them thereby allowing me to have mine without matzo balls in it. I had my own gluten free Challah to mark the Sabbath and Rosh Hashana also provided by my wonderful friend "RL". Abisaac's friends' mother prepared my favorite butter chicken and green dal which is entirely gluten free. At the request of my sister in law, my parents provided an entire meal of foods from a restaurant called Jerusalem which services Mediterranean foods such as baba ghanoui, hummus, falefel, skewers of meat and many other Mediterranean delights. This was the first time I was able to have a gluten free falefel from a restaurant.
There were so many other meals provided with love and support during this difficult time, but here is the most important piece of this entire post...
I recall telling Abisaac that there are so many things I will miss about his brother Daniel, but one of the things that I will never ever forget is his ability and truly genuine desire to make everyone feel welcome. From the first time he ever cooked for me, he was always trying to make things that he knew I would like and always ensuring that everything was gluten free and safe for me to eat. He never ever made me feel different or separate from everyone else at the table or anywhere for that matter. Daniel never let me feel left out. He was always so inclusive. Daniel was a wonderful cook, a great brother in law and a loving, kind and caring person. I will miss him very much.