My boss and I have a ritual on the weekends we await announcements from major scholarships. She comes over, and we sit in my living room sipping Sherry with phones and laptops strewn around us.
I realize sitting Shiva has sad connotations, but I mean it differently – I think.
We sit together, because the experience is too intense to endure alone. By the time we reach this stage, we know nearly everything about these young men and women. We cannot brush off the impact winning – or not – will have on their psyches and their lives. I dubbed it sitting Shiva, not because we sit sadly, but for the opportunity to honor these young lives sitting together gives.
Another facet of our sitting involves sadness. My mother says that a mother can only be as happy as her least happy child. These candidates become our de facto children, and not all of them can win at one time. Thus, each sitting involves sadness for someone, and we suffer for them as acutely as we celebrate for those suffused with joy.
We can’t guarantee that the calls will come while we sit. I remember clearly where I sat – alone – at the moment each of the smiling scholars above called. Those first calls began a flurry of subsequent calls as those of us invested in their unbridled potential attempted to come together, marvel at their magnificence, and contemplate the hole their now-impending absence would leave in our lives: a workable definition of sitting Shiva, I think.
Of course, in Sanskrit, Shiva means “auspicious one,” and these young scholars are auspicious ones, indeed.