It’s said that the members of a hevra kaddisha, or a Jewish burial society, perform the “ultimate kindness” — that is, helping another person who’ll never be able to repay the favor.
Usually, members are volunteers who perform that “kindness” on strangers. But, in the short story “The Chevra” by Goldie Goldbloom, a young woman volunteers to travel across the world, to Australia, to perform the service on someone who she knew better than anyone else: her mother.
The narrator is unflinching in her description of the account: “The dead make sounds. They don’t mean to,” she writes. “But the processes of the body do not need a brain to tell them what to do.” Death, as Goldbloom depicts it, is a whirlpool of different life stories about life: about her mother’s known secrets (the tattoo on her arm) and the ones less known (her mother’s true love, and her brother’s semi-hermit status in the Australian bush), and the narrator’s own journey across the world, to the place she knows best. This one is a real don’t-miss.