My ma called Saturday morning.
Leon and Irma** came for dinner last night. And you won’t believe what happened.
Leon and Irma are friends of the family for as long as I can remember. They’re my parents’ age. They all met on a first-timers’ organized trip to Israel after the ‘73 War. They bonded and the friendship has been thick since.
When I was in high school, Irma and I had season tickets to the theater together. Whenever I visit my parents, I lunch with Irma and make a point of inviting both Leon and Irma to dinner. In short, they’re extended family without the blood ties.
Irma’s cellphone rang in the middle of dinner my mother continues and when she started talking you could just tell something awful had happened. “What do you mean? What do you mean?” she was yelling into the phone.
Then she turns to Leon and says: “Our granddaughter is dead”. We were horrified. And Leon said: “I don’t want to go home. Can we just stay here for a while?”
Irma and Leon’s granddaughter committed suicide. She was having trouble with a recent relationship break-up but it went beyond that. She was 23. I met her years ago when our families celebrated Thanksgiving together & I remember her well because she was a vegan which was highly unusual for a Midwestern teen at the time.
I spoke with my mother again today.
Leon was in shul the other day and people say he sat by himself and sobbed throughout the entire service.
My heart twisted & my thoughts were drawn to pensive, shy Jordan* from Habonim who shot himself when we were in high school. And Calvin whose house we used to play in. His identical twin Carter found him hanging in the attic. And modelesque Rick with the winning smile.
I phoned Irma after hanging up with my ma. She was spent. And broken down. And we exchanged “I love you’s” and then I cried like the supposed comforter isn’t supposed to.
I hope Jordan and Calvin and Rick and Irma’s granddaughter have all found a better place.
**not real names