The story is true (some details omitted for privacy); the names are fake.
Content Warning: Suicide
Later, at a more humane hour of the morning, my phone started blowing up when all of our mutual friends and community members started sharing the news and funeral details. We were part of multiple congregation communities and I was getting messages from all of them. One mutual congregation community wanted me to send the official email and I had to tell them I couldn’t because I was literally a bridesmaid at sister’s wedding. They said mazal tov and someone else sent the email.
One Orthodox mutual friend [upon sharing the news of your death, which I’d now received multiple times, and my response that I was at my sister’s wedding] texted back Mazal Tov and said that it’s a mitzvah to be at the wedding and it’s what you would have wanted. I thought that was kind of a strange thing to say. I mean, who could say what you would have wanted? Also, even if it wasn’t a mitzvah, even if it was a uniquely terrible sin to attend a wedding over a funeral (note: it isn’t), it’s not like I could have, or would have, left.
I compartmentalized. I had to. I told Husband the news because I knew he could compartmentalize too, and because I didn’t want him checking emails and hearing from, or telling other people.
The wedding was beautiful and amazing. I teared up a bit at the ceremony. I am good at compartmentalizing. It was just a very beautiful outdoor ceremony and the sun was right in my face. Bridesmaids don’t get to wear sunglasses.
I danced hard and had an amazing time at the wedding reception. It was a really amazing, fun wedding. Honestly, I was really, genuinely, incredibly happy for my sister and brother-in-law.
I had to be.
I’m told your funeral service was very well attended, despite the short notice (in Judaism, funerals are scheduled as soon as feasibly/logistically possible after the death). I didn’t go, of course. Couldn’t leave the wedding weekend.
I should add that even though Jewish law does not allow for the observance of traditional Jewish mourning rites for suicides (as they are prohibited), the definition of halachic (according to Jewish law) suicide is quite narrow; most rabbis look for ways to “declassify” an apparent suicide so it is not considered a halachic one, thus allowing for traditional Jewish burial.
Monday afternoon after the post-wedding brunch and after saying goodbye to all the relatives and packing up, I drove to the store where our mutual friend “Chana” worked. She was working, but we hugged. My hair was still in those “slept-in-a-heavily-hairsprayed-bridesmaid-updo-after-taking-out-all-the-bobby-pins” curls. I wished her a belated happy birthday – Chana’s birthday was the same day as my sister’s wedding / the same day you had committed suicide. That was a weird thing to say, but she appreciated it.
By the way, don’t get the wrong idea, “Joyce”. I wish with all my heart that you hadn’t done it, but I’m not mad at you about the timing of the day you killed yourself. There is no convenient day to die.
Chana gave me Ezra’s cell phone #. I needed to coordinate when to come over to give Ezra the key I had to your house, and I couldn’t bear the thought of emailing your email address or listening to your voice on your home phone answering machine.
Tuesday, I went back to work.
JYP: Good morning, [Direct Report].
Direct Report: Hi, welcome back! How was the wedding weekend?
I was surprised. I have a deeply sexist belief about men in the workplace, which is that I believe men I work with who do not want to have sex with me are not that interested in my personal life; therefore, I make a point of not rambling on about myself and my life in work conversations where it’s harder for the uninterested party to politely leave. Direct Report reinforced this belief by showing approximately zero interest in anything non-work-related I ever said, aside from “Good morning” and “Have a nice weekend” – I was fully ok with and quite used to this.
I must have told Direct Report about the wedding weekend, since he knew I’d be out, but I was stunned that he actually remembered and cared enough to ask about it.
JYP: The wedding was great!
I wasn’t lying.