| LifeTakes |

Faces We Wear

I look at the pictures. At the widow’s smile. Did I smile like that today, yesterday?

Photos hold endless fascination. Especially family photos.My grandmother’s office is a mini museum. Hanging photo frames, garlands of glass and brass, babies and brides. The certificates on her wall are dwarfed by her nachas.

We love watching the new additions go up, enjoy squinting at pieces of the past. They wore that?

It’s to this cozy room that I drift, toward the end of a sheva brachos my grandmother is hosting for a cousin.

I want a minute of quiet to make a phone call, a place where I can hear myself, never mind the other person. I’m drawn to the wall — who’s that family? — when Sarah, the kallah, walks in.

She’s in this excited bubble of a marriage just three days old. She follows my gaze to a framed collage. It’s leaning on the cupboard, not yet hung. I look at it, a couple and two kids. A bright sun and smiles. I don’t recognize them.

Sarah gasps. She holds up the frame, swallows tears.

“She just came to the wedding,” she says, still clutching the glass.

“Who’s she?”

“Someone I know, who Bubby knows.” She points to the husband. “He just died.”

My grandmother is involved in an organization that helps people with serious illnesses.

“She’s like, your age,” my cousin throws out.

Oh. Oh.

I take in this gorgeous young woman again. Perfect sheitel. Delicious smile. Two young kids hanging onto her and her husband.

“That was Purim,” Sarah says. “I got to know her right before. I came over once and she was here. We got to talking and somehow we instantly connected.”

She’s like that, Sarah, she bonds with people.

I tell her as much but she shakes her head, “No, it was her, she was in it over her head, but there was this sense about her that she was going to make everything meaningful, every interaction count, until, until… not like in a morbid way, but in a let’s live today…”

I look at the pictures. At the widow’s smile. Did I smile like that today, yesterday?

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 682)

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