This death thing is hard on the heart which beats, but late sounds different. Everything else goes on as planned, the morning paper is aimed at the door detailing stock market picks, crucial decisions are made to eat in or dine out on the usual: Tofu or Thai chicken salad. Then, student essays graded with uncommon patience and occasional relief for the couple of offbeat creative visions. One afternoon you feel better buoyant as days from another era, ready to get hair and nails done. Reclining in the shampooist's chair, relaxed as a ribbon, you burst into tears, embarrassed. It's been months since you lost your grip [End Page 86] just trying to be who you were while the world and its oceans shifted imperceptibly. Didn't anyone notice but me?

Brenda Serotte

"'The Last Kaddish' was written after a year of mourning for my mother. We had a rocky relationship, but shared one thing always: A passionate love of Ladino, our ancient Spanish language, still spoken today by Sephardi Jews around the world. After her death, I completed a memoir, The Fortune Teller's Kiss (The University of Nebraska Press), and a book of poetry, The Blue Farm (Ginninderra Press), which explore in depth and celebrate my Sephardi heritage."

Brenda Serotte teaches world literature and writing at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is at work on a novel about Peru. Find her website at


Kaddish is the Hebrew prayer for the dead, recited for the last time after one year of mourning. [End Page 87]

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