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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/01/08

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‘Esther’ Sets the Record Straight (See Chronicles 5-16, 5-23, 5-30)

Dear Rachel,

Thank you for printing my letter and your answer. I appreciate your advice, but you seem to have missed a vital part of my story. My thoughts were so jumbled and stormy when I wrote the letter; I had been concentrating on the terrible pain that has destroyed me and apparently neglected to include some details of my tortured life, like the fact that my “wonderful husband” had turned out to be an abuser.

In your answer you admonish me for not searching for my children instead of killing myself over Aaron. That part of your letter put a knife into my heart. For you see, Rachel, I did not abandon my children!!!! They were stolen from me! My ex and his shyster lawyer manipulated everything in order to make me look crazy. Unfortunately, my own lawyer was weak, and since my father had died a few months after my wedding, I didn’t have any real backing and support.

My ex used my devastation over Aaron’s death to “convince” the judge that I am not fit to be a mother. He gained full custody and left the country about two years later, vanishing with my precious little boys.

My attorney petitioned the judge to force the other attorney to reveal his client’s whereabouts, but like my ex father-in-law who did everything possible to defend his son, their lawyer feigned cluelessness. For six months I was a total zombie and wanted desperately to kill myself. But just as I had no guts to marry Aaron, I had no guts to take my life.

I was faced with total desolation. All my earthly goods were gone: money, furniture, and jewelry – all gone with my ex. And gone with my father’s death because he had been in debt to many.

So I took some courses and have the same job for many years. I work, shop, pay my bills, and so on… but inside, I am dead. Inside, my heart continues to beat against my chest and I continually see Aaron’s sad eyes and desperate pleading. I murdered an innocent, wonderful young man who was good and pure and loved me pure and simple.

When my children vanished, I died a million times over the years. As a mother, my heart bleeds and cries and is torn apart. The little bit of comfort that is mine and which alleviates ever so slightly the pain in my heart is knowing that my ex loved my children with all of his heart and would do everything he can for them.

Yes, he took them away from their mother. But I am sure that he married again quickly and that they forgot me quickly. They were practically babies. How could they possibly remember me? That is the way with men. They can beat you and abuse you but they will quickly marry again . . . because we women are desperate for someone to unite with.

Please, please don’t ever think that I abandoned my children. My tyrannical husband (who was yet a loving father) snatched my precious little babies from me. How can anyone have such a split personality?

And still, my burden of guilt lies in knowing that Aaron’s only sin was my own stupid selfishness, and this gives me no rest. I destroyed an innocent someone’s life, Aaron’s, for no reason, and that is completely criminal in the eyes of Hashem. I do not think Gehennom holds worse punishment than what I have already suffered for so many years. I even believe that losing my children is part of Hashem’s punishment for my having killed Aaron.

In your answer, Rachel you sort-of reprimand Aaron for sending me his last letter when I was already married. The poor boy was going away forever − whether one can die from a broken heart or whether Aaron was already sick, he had nothing left in his shattered world except for thoughts of the past. I think it is Hashem’s job to judge Aaron.

And don’t you think, Rachel, that my horrible situation at home would have naturally led me to wonder whether my life would have been happier with poor Aaron? The letter was only the straw that broke the camel’s back and hammered home the stupid things I did to him…and to myself.

If only one person who reads my letter to you will change his//her selfish ways and give the other person a chance, then maybe my 23 years of bitter guilt and searing pain will have been worth something and Hashem will give me the peace I need. There are other stories of broken hearts and dreams out there and at least some that could have been prevented. To reject a person the way I did is a big aveirah and can lead to disaster.

I know that “being stuck in the rut” doesn’t do me any good, but the guilt I feel for having murdered Aaron is far too deep. And perhaps, as you say, I did not actually murder Aaron; perhaps he had some sickness I was unaware of. But putting salt on a wound will only make it worse. In which case, by hurting him and rejecting him in such an ugly and unjustified way I hurried his end. And had I accepted him and stood by his side, he’d probably have lived longer. I read many times that sadness destroys a person. (Look who is talking?) Whatever sickness he may have had, I surely compounded it and rushed his end. And that is why I cannot forgive myself.

Yes, I am still crying through the nights, but with your answer and the caring attorney’s emotional letter that followed, I 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.

Thank you.

“Esther”

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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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