Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Call Expats Dread

We call it the dreaded call. The one where they tell you one of your elderly parents has died and you need to get yourself back in time for the funeral. In Jewish tradition this is held as soon as possible - the next day at the latest.

I got the call last Thursday 31/12/15 at 12.30 am. We had been in London for Hanuka at the beginning of December and I knew this was probably the last time I would see my father but I thought it would be a few more weeks before I got the call. However, I knew it was the call as soon as the phone rang so late at night. What else could it be?

I'd already consulted with my friend who is a travel agent and she'd told me that there was nothing she could do with El Al if it was outside office hours. But of course you can book EasyJet (or Monarch now) online at any time of the day or night. So at 1am I booked us two flights to Luton for later that day.

I put a short message up on facebook. Messages of condolence started coming back. It's amazing how many people are up at all hours from 1 am till 5 am. The laptop was pinging every few minutes. I was up as I suddenly realized that we had no clean clothes to take with us and I had to do laundry.

I had been sick with a sore throat for about 10 days previously and I'd been going to bed early and not cleaning or doing any laundry, We had finally run out of clothes but I would have been working from home that Thursday so I'd planned to catch up with all the household stuff during the next day. Instead I did three washes and hung the wet laundry in the spare bedroom with the heater on in the hope that some of it would dry by the time we had to leave for the airport. It didn't but at least I came home to clean clothes a week later.

I also had to clean my flat as I thought friends might come to visit me when we got back if I was still sitting shiva. In the end I wasn't still sitting shiva as the funeral was earlier than we'd expected. At 5 am I finished cleaning the bathrooms and the kitchen and tidying up and packing. I thought I'd get a couple of hours sleep before DD woke up at about 7 but people started calling as they woke up and saw I'd been on fb throughout the night.

I told people that it wasn't unexpected and they said it's ok to be upset even if it was expected, but I didn't have time to be upset. Along with all the cleaning, washing, packing, and travel arrangements I also had to inform all my places of work and students that I'd be away for a week.

Eventually we boarded our plane on Thursday afternoon and I promptly fell asleep for most of the flight. DD looked out the window, did colouring and sticker books and also slept for some of the way. It was an uneventful journey, no different from the one we'd done only three weeks before. I didn't really relate to the fact that we were coming back to bury my father.


  1. Ah, that's tough, even if expected. Glad, at least, that you were able to sleep on the flight. Sending a whole ton of love to you. xxxxx

  2. I'm very sorry to read your news, whether it was expected or not, it's a desperately sad time xx

  3. So sorry to hear of your loss, Rachel.

  4. So sorry to read your sad news. I wish you long life. x

    1. Thank you MumB. I remember we 'spoke' about this when I wrote my orignal shiva post a couple of years ago. xxx

  5. That must have been so tough for you. Being away from home, and all that organising in a short space of time too. My thoughts and prayers to you all xxx

  6. Rachel, I am so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your family.

  7. Rachel, I'm sorry I'm late to this sad news and give you my sincere condolences for the loss of your father. I've read about your sitting in shiva and the funeral and can only say that your diginity and love shine through at what must be a terrible time. Much love xx