It was a beautiful summer afternoon. Gabriella, one of my best friends, and I turned our backs on the bus stop and headed for the park. Who would want to travel on a stuffy bus? The blackbirds were singing and the summer flowerbeds were bursting with color. So we decided to walk home through the park. We soon reached the park exit and it was time for us to go our separate ways. As usual, we stood chatting for another few minutes before we each turned towards our home. All I wanted was to get home. I raced for the house, my heavy school bag bouncing off my legs. I rang the bell...

You're lying, you're lying," I heard the scream burst out The door opened and my big brother came out onto the doorstep. I had a passing instant thought, "What is my big brother Pesach doing here?" but the thought was exploded undigested as I heard his words.

"Daddy is dead."

"You're lying, you're lying," I heard the scream burst out of my own lips. Daddy had a heart attack when I was seven. Since then I would sometimes feel a cold, sinking dread somewhere in my stomach. Now that dreaded thing had happened.

I didn't know why, but all I wanted was my garden. "Who cares where Mummy is? Who cares where my brothers and sisters are? I need my garden!" I dashed through the house and flew out the back door into the garden, screaming and screaming, "You're lying, you're lying!" I charged around and around the garden paths begging G‑d to change His mind: "Make him come alive again! Please, Oh please..." I continued my aimless chase. Normally I walked slowly round the garden. I would notice any new sign of life. I would marvel each time that I saw the signs of a new season. Like old friends, I waited to see the tiny scarlet pimpernel, the tall majestic rosebay willow herb, the friendly herb robin. Yes, all those wild flowers that other people called weeds were like true trusted friends. Now my eyes were not looking at anything. Now my mind was dashing around in time with my wild footsteps. "How could You, how could You..." I scolded, and then, a little later, "Oh, I'm so sorry I said that, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

I went back into the house. There was a strange quiet stillness, one I could almost feel. The sobbing I heard from somewhere didn't break that silence, it was as if it were part of it. The entrance hall felt funny, something was missing. The missing thing was my face. Why did the mirror have a sheet hanging over it? I snooped into other mirrored places in the house. All the mirrors were covered in sheets. A cold chill ran down my spine; spooky, I thought. I was suddenly afraid that if I should peek behind those sheets I would see my father's face. The thought terrified me.

The front door bell rang, disturbing my thoughts. "Who could that be, isn't everybody here already?" I went downstairs to see.

Everyone was hustling around the front door pushing and shoving to get closer to the surprise visitors. Some close family friends were at the door. As soon as they had heard the news, they had dashed over to see if they could help. They were the first of a continuous stream of helpers, friends, and family. The doorbell didn't stop ringing. The greetings, the hugs and the tears were presented to each group in turn. Sometimes they seemed really real and sometimes they seemed like a polite play act of how you should behave.

It was a gentle night of being hugged by all those who really matteredMuch later that night the Glaswegians arrived—my father's sisters and their families. They filled up the house with their chattering and they filled the fridge with their little packets of food left over from their long journey. I heard those singsong Scottish accents. I saw my favorite cousin who lived so far away. When Glasgow came down to us in London it was something to celebrate, something to get excited about. My heart soared with the joy of their arrival and then crash-dived when I realized why they had come. That night was full of closeness as we reminisced over our memories of Daddy. It was a gentle night of being hugged by all those who really mattered. I don't remember how it ended. I just remember the stark white bright summer sunlight that made the morning of Daddy's funeral a reality.

I wouldn't go. I didn't want to. I felt no connection with a wooden box being put into a hole in the ground. That was not my daddy, it couldn't be. I was not going to have that as my last memory of my daddy. Mummy let me stay at home. The house was full of chatter, fussing and arranging before they left for the funeral. When they left it became deadly silent. I spent the time when they were away wandering round and round the garden. It was such a different wandering than yesterday afternoon's. No rushing, no shouting, in fact no anything. It was just a dead, cold, feelingless, aimless, empty wandering.

They came home, settling down to the meal of hard-boiled eggs. We sat down on the low stools the synagogue had provided and waited for the shiva callers to call. Oh, how can people be so false? That shiva sent shivers down my spine. People whom just a day or so ago were having a royal battle with Daddy about synagogue politics were now singing his praises. Others were describing this faultless, angel-like being who never existed. Where was the man I had spoken to just two mornings ago? Why didn't people tell the truth? My daddy wasn't an angel but he was actually so much more than an angel. I wanted to scream at some of them, "Shut up!" I was stamping around from one room to another. I could hardly sit for five minutes at a time on those strange little stools. I think my face must have looked as angry as a thunderstorm. That's how I felt anyway. How different the shiva was from that night before the funeral. Then, there had been genuine warmth. Then I could feel the caring, I could begin to accept some comfort. Now it was all so false, so formal. After getting through that first night of shiva, I insisted that the next day I was going to school.

The rabbi was consulted and I suppose he understood that I needed to get away from the house. I went to school. I had sworn my mother to secrecy. "Please, please don't tell them at school, I don't want them to know." I saw Gabriella in the playground. Oh, it felt as if years had passed since we parted so happily at the park gate. I told her what had happened! I don't know what got into me. I just told her, "matter of factly" like. And she told me. She told me that just a couple of weeks ago her father had died. She poured her heart out to me. We walked around the playground in those few minutes before the bell rang. I comforted her for her loss. Would you believe it? I did the comforting. It was so, so good for me to be able to comfort someone else. School was school, I could lose myself in its routines, some things never change.

Back home again the shiva house was still being attacked by visitor after relentless visitor. I longed for that week to stop and, of course, it did. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Now we can get back to normal," I thought.

My ears would tense up at the same time every evening waiting to hear a key in the door I could think what I pleased but the truth was that there was no normal anymore. My ears would tense up at the same time every evening waiting to hear a key in the door that never came. I knew it wouldn't, but my body clock seemed to take longer to understand. We passed event after event without him. The first ordinary suppertime, Shabbat, my baby brother's third birthday, Sundays at home. On and on the days went and I lived them one at a time. I couldn't look into the future; I couldn't bear to think about it. I just tried to get through that day's business, that day's missings. The holidays were coming, I was dreading them. Shabbat was difficult enough. People were very kind and when my big brother was home he could make kiddush. But... Oh! But, but, but, life was getting so full of buts.

Mummy went to work. It just had to happen I suppose. We had to pay our bills and so she needed to earn some money. Mummy had always helped Daddy in his practice. He was a doctor and she was his receptionist. Yet she used to be home an awful lot. Now she was away day in day out and we had to look after ourselves and the little ones. The family wasn't a family anymore. Suppertime had always been a time of getting together and talking over the day's happenings. Now it was a "grab-what-you-find-when-you-want" meal. Breakfast had always been set out the night before. Now it was an "eat-it-if-you-make-it" meal. Daddy had shaped our lives, his routine had ruled our routines and now he was gone.

Passover was coming. There was cleaning, scrubbing, and excitement in the air. All of us together were getting the house ready for the holiday. Then we would bring down the Passover dishes from tall unreachable cupboards and the spider-webby attic. This year though, as Passover drew near, there was a kind of dread mixed with the unstoppable pre-Passover excitement. How could we face those special Passover dishes, so full of sentiment? Who would do the Daddy pre-Passover jobs? Where would we be for Seder night?

Mummy decided to invite Auntie Rivkie down from Glasgow. Daddy always said how sensible she was. She always knew just what was important. We didn't care how sensible she was. All we cared about was that she was such fun. She seemed centuries younger than Daddy and she wasn't even married. I couldn't help having that gleeful funny jumping kind of feeling in my stomach every time I thought about Auntie Rivkie coming. In my head, I was crossing off the days till her arrival, getting more and more excited with each cross.

Didn't they remember that Daddy used to run our Seder night?But! I should be sad! I was sad. I should be mourning! I was mourning. Yet my insides knew that I was really looking forward to Auntie Rivkie's arrival. Did that show that I didn't care? Did it mean that, with not a year gone yet, I had already forgotten to be sad?

Close, close friends invited us for Seder night. We went and I sat there, face as long as our local park, feeling miserable and looking it. My brothers and sisters and even Mummy seemed to be enjoying it. How could they?! What a betrayal! Didn't they remember that Daddy used to run our Seder night? Didn't they remember how he used to do it, his tunes, his voice? I felt a tear, more of anger than of sadness, roll down my cheek.

Then it was over. The last verse of Chad Gadya was sung to the wrong tune and we went home.

When we arrived at home, only the little ones went to bed. The rest of us sat around in the living room and had a huge family moaning session.

"Nobody could run a Seder like your father," Mummy said. "What funny tunes they had." "What's the point of making Daddy's favorite Passover sponge cake?" "What's the point of anything anymore?"

So it went on until Aunt Rivkie stopped us by declaring: "Enough! Come on you lot! This is Seder night! It's a holiday! What are you all doing looking as if you had just come back from a funeral?"

"We have!" I wailed.

"No you have not!" she announced. "Now just you tell me what Daddy would say if he saw you now?"

There was silence. Then one of my brothers said, "Come on now boys, get to bed, you need to be up for prayers in the morning." He copied my father's voice, exaggerating the usually faint Scottish accent that he had.

One of my other brothers took up the challenge. "If you so much miss my tunes then why don't you sing them now?"

"Oh! No we can't, they will make me cry," I wailed.

"Do you want to have me around or do you just want a dusted memory for the history museum?" Auntie Rivkie asked, mimicking Daddy's voice so well that I got the shivers.

His daddyness could be here again for me, for all of us even nowWhat Auntie Rivkie said made me feel as if I had just been woken up. Somehow I had totally lost Daddy sometime between the awful afternoon of his death and the end of the shiva week. I had almost forgotten his face, his voice, his ways. It was true that now he was not here, but he had been here once. His daddyness could be here again for me, for all of us even now.

"Let's sing Adir Hu," I said.

"Do you remember how...?" "Do you remember the Passover when...?"

We sang. We talked over memories. We wondered how he would have liked us to spend this Passover. There was nothing sad about our talk. It was like we were enjoying what it had been like to have Daddy as a person in our lives. Suddenly, in some very real way, we had Daddy back. I don't think I will send him so far away again.

"Can we have suppers together again just how Daddy liked it?" I asked.

"Yes, and let's take turns for setting the breakfast table," said one of my sisters.

"Let's be like our family again," said a younger brother sleepily

"Come on to bed," said Mummy, "or it will soon be time for the morning reading of the Shema..."

We all contentedly went to bed.