As I’ve written more than once in my Grief and Gratitude series, I believe that one of the main things that’s made me resilient in the face of my life’s many traumatic experiences, most recently and my daughter’s death, is having learned to nurture a sense of thankfulness. I had a special opportunity to do just that at our family’s Passover seder this past Monday evening.
People often ask me before Passover where we will be for seder, and I always reply, “Where we are every year – at home.” One of my happiest times of the year comes when Daniel and I sit at the seder table with our children. The more children who come the better, as far as I’m concerned. When all seven lived with us, of course, they filled all the seats. But in recent years their number at the table has diminished. As they got older, some went abroad for a time, some got married, and some have started building lives as parents. And one stopped coming forever, just as she reached adulthood.
This year, we had our smallest seder yet, with only A., S. and her husband G. (with their sweet daughter, four-month-old Arielle, as a bonus) representing the younger generation of adult Avitzours; our friend Steve joined us as well. (D. went to visit E. and her spouse O. in London, where she’s studying, and El. and T. flew with grandson Imri to Nice, to visit a friend who’s studying art there. Ash. and husband Er. mad the seder at his parents' home this year.)
At first I was a bit upset that only a third of the children we have in this world would be with us for this most family-oriented night. But then I realized that this is just the price I pay for having adult children. And I certainly love having adult children - partly because they are so much fun to be with, but also because the alternative, after all, would be for them not to have grown up.
In the event, the seder was lovely. The six of us read the Hagaddah together, pausing whenever anyone had a question or a comment. We sang the series of songs at the seder’s end energetically, acting some of them out and laughing harder and harder as we progressed. We deeply enjoyed each other’s company; although I missed my other children (and grandson!), those present reminded me of their siblings’ continued presence in our lives. They reminded me, too, that in future years the others will also claim their places at our Passover table, which will always await them.
And for that, I am extremely grateful.