Esther – An Update (Part 2)
Last week we reacquainted ourselves with a fascinating story that began to appear in this space last May and culminated in a touching finale (or so we thought) the following October. In that time frame, we befriended a young woman calling herself Esther and learned of her personal heartache and misfortunes.
Esther opened her heart to this column in her first letter: “For years I ask Hashem to either take away the horrible pain or take back my neshamah…. 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…I guess that I will mourn and cry for the next 23… I cannot find peace or solace for the terrible thing I did…”
At the time, we advised Esther to put the past behind her: “We all make mistakes hopefully learn from them, do teshuvah and move on.” In a follow-up letter, Esther sounded a note of cautious optimism: “…I am still crying through the nights but feel that a heavy load is being lifted from the depths of my being – like a bottle has become uncorked and the gas is shpritzing out.”
To say there’s been steady improvement in Esther’s life since would be to trivialize the amazing events that have transpired, for Esther’s negativism turned into a fantasy come true – as a direct result of this column – when she reunited with her son whom she was torn from 23 years ago.
Last week we left off with Esther trying to decide whether to uproot herself from her home in America and move to Israel where her heart is, now that she has rediscovered a treasure she had thought to be forever lost to her.
She finally resolved to go to Israel for Pesach and, while there, evaluate her options and hopefully reach a more definitive conclusion.
Well, as they say mentch tracht un G-t lacht… man plans and G-d laughs
In mid-December, a week before the start of Chanukah, Esther’s phone rang. A male voice introduced himself and said that he had an envelope for her from her son. He delivered it personally later in the week, and to Esther’s delight, it contained a beautiful photo of her granddaughter along with an endearing note.
Light banter revealed the kind “messenger” to be a widower of several years, with one daughter who had recently married. By the time the amiable stranger took his leave (some two hours later), they had set a date for the first night of Chanukah.
In Esther’s words: “Rachel!! He asked me out!!!! I am STILL IN SHOCK! (I think my son is playing matchmaker!) I blushed, coughed…made a spectacle of myself (haven’t been out with a man in YEARS!), laughed awkwardly, stammered and….accepted!”
In an earlier e-mail, Esther had divulged that she had gained an unexpected benefit with all the new goings-on and excitement: she had lost 21 pounds. Now, by the time Chanukah came around, she shed some more weight. “I am a bundle of nerves!!” she confided.
Following a pleasant time out (dinner in a nice restaurant), Esther sounded considerably calmer. No stranger to adversity, she had felt profound sympathy for her date who had spoken poignantly of a wonderful marriage and the loss of a wife who had suffered from illness for many years. “Aryeh” spoke lovingly of his daughter whom he raised single-handedly and whom he missed intensely since she had married and settled in another country.
“Rachel, I later cried at…such selfless dedication and a plain love story. I wish that I too had allowed love to rule the day…”I wasted no time communicating to Esther that this type of man (loving and caring of his spouse, devoted to his daughter) makes the ideal husband.
As if they needed my input… The tall, dark and handsome gentleman wasn’t wasting any time either and asked if he could see her again (he was here on business) before he’d be returning to Israel.
Esther didn’t sleep well that night. “I kept rehashing the date over and over again. What is going on, Rachel? My life is suddenly spinning and I’m losing control. Too many things have suddenly dropped into my daily routine…I feel overwhelmed but happy, tired but energized, totally in a fog…”
She worried whether she was being used “to pave his way back into the society of potential marriage” and of being left “holding the bag of emotions.” She was nervous and confused – and elated “at the simple fact that after so many years of living in a self-made cocoon someone actually liked me enough to take me out.”
And if she took things seriously, she wondered, would she be able to survive the pain if he did not ?
On their second date, the warmth radiating between them was not the one emanating from the Chabad Menorah in the town hall park where they had gone to participate in the candle-lighting ceremony.
After dropping her off at her home that night and taking his leave (not before setting another date) “I stood at my window and watched until the lights of his car disappeared, like a teenager. And then I felt sort of a lump in my throat and I cried,” wrote Esther.
“Rachel! Can it be that love hit me? Can it happen so quickly after so many years of living in a dark shell? It seems that only yesterday I thought of suicide . Am I setting myself up for pain? Or is it too late . I am suddenly afraid what will I do if it ends? I feel like I’m already entangled in a web of very strong feelings and I am terrified. At the same time I can’t wait to see him again ”