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I don’t think there is anything you can possibly say to me that I haven’t already heard. There are no words yet written that will ever soothe away the terrible load of my sorrow and pain. but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Twenty-three years ago I murdered a wonderful young man and haven’t had a day of true peace ever since.
NO! I didn’t shoot or beat or run him down. But I killed him in any case.
The young man loved me very, very much. His parents were poor, and at the age of 16 he went to work to help out his family. He was one of seven children. We met one day when we were both 18 in the bungalow colony where he was the handyman, and for two years we were very close. But when on my 20th birthday he asked me to marry him, I flatly refused.
You see, Rachel, I was too much into myself. Yes, I loved him too, but at the time I was much more interested in material comforts. I wanted a big house, money, jewelry, etc. I was self-centered and selfish. As my father was a wealthy businessman, we lacked for nothing. Except for values, which to a spoiled teenager like me were of no value.
And, he was a Sephardi boy. How could I, a scion of four-generation Americans, ever marry “down?” What would friends and neighbors say? How would I ever swallow the “shame?”
Not only did I turn his proposal down, I also had the stupidity to insult him! What a childish fool I was for having refused him for all the wrong reasons, for being poor, for being born “on the wrong side of the ethnic fence.”
And I rejected him many more times over the next few months.
“I can’t promise you the moon,” he cried. “I can’t promise you a future of wealth. All I can promise you,” he kept saying, “is my whole heart. This heart promises you love that no amount of money can ever buy.”
But I couldn’t reconcile myself to the idea of being poor. I never considered the fact that Hashem lowers the rich and raises the poor. I simply didn’t care to wait and take the chance.
Oh, I know you’ll tell me that it’s all “bashert” and everything is destined, that “time heals.” Not in my case. I’ve heard all of the many clichés designed to make me feel better and forget. But I can’t!
Today I know that money comes and goes and wealth is G-d given and can easily be taken away. But then I was too naive and selfish. So I threw his love away and practically stepped all over it by insulting him for no reason. And about a year-and-a-half later I married a fine young Ashkenazi yeshiva boy whose father was also wealthy.
About nine months after my marriage, I received a letter from Aaron (not his real name). I tried hard to ignore what he had written at the bottom of his long and tear-drenched letter. It said: “My love; I hoped all this time that you may change your mind. You didn’t. And your recent marriage sealed the fact that I lost forever the most precious thing I ever hadyou! I have no reason to live any longer. And I know that I don’t have long to live. but when I go, my dear Esther [not my name], I will leave for you the heart I promised you then . . . my broken heart.”
He had sent it from a hospital where he had been for almost as long as I was married. (I know now that he simply fell apart when he heard of my marriage. And he gave up any reason for living.) He simply wasted away, and three weeks after I received the letter, he died. I went to his levayah and cried hysterically.
It’s now been 23 years since he died and I cannot forgive myself for the dirty way I treated him. Why, I keep asking myself, did I treat him this way? What horrible crime did he commit? He didn’t deserve to be kicked away like a dirty rag!
My nightly dreams leave me exhausted as I cry a pool of tears into my pillow. (My husband left me three years later claiming I was “possessed” and that I was crazy. Could I really blame him? He was given exclusive custody of my two beautiful little boys and simply disappeared with them lest they become infected with my craziness. I never saw them again! I mourn them on top of what you read here. But that’s for another time.)
Believe me Rachel; I am not crazy. I am simply wracked with unrelenting guilt.
Along with my ex went the “wealth” I was so enamored with.
So you see, Rachel, all I truly posses today are the thoughts of Aaron and the broken heart he left behind. How I wish I could turn back the hands of time!
My heart beats faster every time I rehash the moment I turned him down. I feel that there is an extra skip and thump in my heart, perhaps an extra heart inside of me. It seems that the heart he wished to give me so many years ago has truly been left to me; the battered, bleeding and broken heart of the sweetest, kindest and most loving young man that you can ever imagine.
For years I ask Hashem to either take away the horrible pain or take back my neshamah. But I guess Hashem doesn’t want me either.
In the past I thought of suicide but didn’t have the guts because I was afraid (still am) of meeting Aaron in the World-To-Come.
Thank you so much for allowing me to unburden. There is so much more that I can tell you of my life in the last 23 years, but the most important aspect of it has now been related.
I’d like to remain anonymous, in the shadows. I don’t want anyone entering my daled amos of despair. And I guess that I will mourn and cry for the next 23 years. Because I cannot find peace or solace for the terrible thing I did by killing an innocent, gentle, well-meaning young man.
(Answer, next week)