I forgot to mention one of the funeral customs that I saw at Mark's funeral, which I found very meaningful. First time I'd ever seen it.
After the burial, when the family was getting ready to leave, everyone stood in two lines, and the family passed through the lines, seeing everyone who had come to pay their respects to their husband/father. The boys took off their shoes. Don't know why. It was one of the most powerful Jewish customs that I'd ever seen.
Last night, my daughter came in late, bringing a puppy with her. She was walking with her boyfriend and they found this puppy huddled for warmth next to a dead cat. So, being her mother's daughter, she brought it home. Of course, I immediately said "only outside". And of course, it whined and whimpered and woke up the rest of the house, while Ariella went to sleep! And now, of course, it's curled up next to Ariella while she sleeps so that I don't have complaints from the rest of the neighbors.
What am I supposed to do with this creature?
Time to daven. This past year, I've made time every morning for a few basic prayers. It's a great comfort to me, and connects me with God in a very concrete way. There are all sorts of "segulas" for bringing good fortune...the Chabadniks put a few coins in a tzdekka box when they pray, which I also do (why not?) and I also use the time to say a few psalms for the welfare of my children. When I say the psalms, I ask God to make them "safe, happy, and healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically". I see what happens to a person when their emotional health is unstable -- they become someone else. I can only pray...God has to take care of the rest.
A new neighbor is coming tomorrow for lunch, along with some others. The new guy seems bright, intelligent, warm and friendly....nice to have some new friends. And I crave the kind of adult conversation that my Shabbat lunches, with guests, gives me. Friday nights I generally reserve for the family, and try to give the kids my attention. (Though they often bring friends). But Saturdays I feel that I'm allowed some time to share ideas and thoughts with people my own age.