TITLE: Unbroken Glass
GENRE: Adult literary fiction
I never expected to get divorced, let alone sit Shiva for my ex-husband in a house with a Christmas tree. Yet there I was.
The imitation pine tree was fully dressed in tinsel and shiny red balls. Hallmark ornaments masqueraded as heirlooms and dangled from its branches. The dining table was draped in silver garland and scattered with menorahs and boxes wrapped in Hanukkah paper -- an attempt at cultural balance, I presumed. Richard had detested Christmas folderol. I’d chided him for it as long as I could remember.
“The kids tell me there’s a Christmas tree in your house,” I said to him a week before. “I thought you hated Christmas.”
“Yeah well, things change,” he said. “And anyway, it’s Nicole’s tree, not mine.”
It was hard to say which was more shocking -- Richard dying less than 48 hours earlier, or the glittered personalized stockings in his home dangling above a plain card table topped with carefully rolled slices of lox, cream cheese balls and a mountain of seeded bagels. The Shiva food sat untouched and started to curl and crust at the edges. Everyone hovered, waiting for some official signal that it was Time To Eat. Only then would they soothe their psyches with time-honored Jewish death fare.
Someone must have told Nicole the food was going to spoil. What did a shiksa, a non-Jewish girl, know about smoked fish? She stood up. “Everyone, please have something to eat.”
Aunt Sophie was first in line.