We recently had Simchat Torah, one of my favorite holidays, the culmination of the High Holy Days season. The cycle of reading the Torah ends with the death of Moshe Rabeynu (Moses Our Teacher) and the ascent of Joshua, on the eve of the Israelites’ entry into Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). And then it begins all over again with the beginning of the Torah, Hashem creating the world (though most people except for the Hareidim nowadays understand it’s not talking about six literal days, and that each “day” represents a much longer period of time). It’s the holiday when all the Torah scrolls are taken out and the people dance with them in circles (Hakafot) around the sanctuary, and sometimes spill out into the street, the parking lot, or the grounds. Since I’m not completely Orthodox yet, this is one holiday I prefer to observe in an egalitarian shul (though I don’t mind going to an Orthodox shul for the evening portion). It means a lot to me to hold the Torah and dance with it.
A few years ago, one of my rabbis pointed out how we tend to forget, in the midst of such a happy holiday, that it’s actually a very sad story. Moshe dies without getting to enter Eretz Yisrael, all because he disobeyed Hashem and extracted water from a rock in the wrong way. There are a number of Midrashim (rabbinic elaborations on the Torah) talking about how Moshe begged and pleaded with Hashem to let him enter the Land in any way, even in the body of a flea. He begged Hashem to let him live and not die in the desert. But the decree wouldn’t be revoked, and so Moshe went up on Mount Nevo as Hashem showed him the beautiful Land. And then Moshe died and was buried in an unmarked grave, so people wouldn’t flock to it and turn it into a tourist attraction, something the humble Moshe wouldn’t have wanted.
The final few passages of the Torah always give me chills, year after year. I was so inspired by it, I decided to style the ending of Cinnimin after it. I’ve mentioned I already started writing the end, so I could get her death out of the way and not have to always be dreading it, the closer I got to the end. It’s mostly finished, though I still have a little work to do on the first afterword, write the closing section, and fill in the missing pieces of the genealogy. The large middle section of the finale (perhaps it’ll be Part 100?) is mostly a genealogy, like one final accounting of all of Cinni’s friends, relatives, and their descendants, down through the present day. It’s written in a sort of Biblical style, and opens in a style lifted from the opening of the Torah portion Chayei Sarah, The Life of Sarah. Like Chayei Sarah, the finale, “And Cinnimin Lived,” emphasizes the fact that she lived, not that she died:
And Cinnimin’s life—the span of Cinnimin’s life—was one hundred twenty years.
Here’s a short example of the Biblically-inspired genealogy in the long middle section, talking about the line of Cinni’s second daughter and fifth-born child Isabella (who was named and created long before the name was even in the Top 100):
Isabella was born on August 23, 1955, and wed Timothy Jonathan Hitchcock-Fredrickson, the lone boy in a set of triplets born to Cinnimin’s dear friend Violet Stephanie Anabella Hitchcock-Fredrickson, whom she also lived next door to for her entire life, right up till May of 1960, when she and Levon finally moved into a house of their own with their children. They begot Oliver Orion, Ph.D., called Ollie, and Major Perseus Kevorkian.
Ollie wed Xena Veracruz, Zelda’s sister, and they begot Anaïs and Bertrand Filliard.
Perseus wed Miranda Stephanie Unicorn-Mitchell, called Randi, the only begotten child of Cinnimin’s friends Henry Unicorn-Mitchell and Adeline Myers. They begot Ysabelle Filliard.
Then after the genealogy is completed, there are a few paragraphs talking about how Cinni fondly remembers what was, has prepared a trunk of olden days memories for her four-greats-grandkids, and looks at old pictures of her friends and wonders if those young, happy, smiling faces knew what kinds of sad things lay in store for some of them. Then the ending I wrote based strongly on Deuteronomy 34:
The time had come for Cinnimin to die. While lying in bed on the morning of December 7, 2050, the day after Levon’s 120th birthday and the 109th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the breath left her body. Hers was not a precalculated dying of her own willpower, the way Butler Reagan had died in 1997, but rather the natural stopping of a body clock that had been run down after so many decades of old age. Right before she died, Cinnimin told Levon she loved him one last time, and thought contentedly of how she’d lived long enough to see her father, Holden Grigóriy Filliard I, honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. She was one hundred twenty years old at the time of her death, her eyesight undimmed and her mind still as sharp as a pin.
Cinnimin’s children, grandchildren, and other descendants bewailed their matriarch’s passing for thirty days and thirty nights, unable to believe the woman who had led their family for so many decades and generations was now no more. Levon in particular could not get over the loss of his wife, whom he still saw in his mind’s eye as the vivacious eleven-year-old he’d met at the Seward mansion on May 5, 1942, not as the elderly woman she’d become.
The period of mourning for Cinnimin came to an end. Following the period of mourning, her granddaughters Livia Irene Filliard O’Malley, Viktoria Natálya Kevorkian, and Carolina Maria Kevorkian stepped into her shoes as the family’s matriarchs; and since they were cut from the same cloth as their revered matriarch, the other members of the family, regardless of age, heeded them and did as they said.
Never again did there arise in the annals of WTCOAC history a woman the likes of Cinnimin Rebecca Filliard Kevorkian, who lived through twelve decades of history, produced six younger generations in her lifetime, was the ninth reincarnation and a direct descendant of WTCOAC Woman, and who, along with her friends and family, fulfilled all of the prophecies of her twelve-greats-grandmother Charlotte Rebecca Lennon.