Dear Mrs. Bluth,
Three years ago, I married a wonderful bochur, who was everything any young girl could have hoped for. I was overjoyed to have found my zivug so early on in the dating parsha and all of my friends were a little green with envy that it had been so easy for me. My parents and future in-laws also clicked and a mutual bond of deep friendship developed as my chosson and I got engaged and shared joyously in the wedding plans. It was a magical time and we couldn’t wait for the five months to pass until the wedding to start our life together.
Our wedding was a community event, everyone was invited and came to be misameiach, and the pictures bore witness to the revelry, dancing and merrymaking that carried us into our married life. My parents had rented a beautiful apartment for us and agreed to pay the rent for the next four years so that my husband could learn and my in-laws agreed to pay the bills. So, shanah rishona was a beautiful time in which we were able to set down deep and loving roots without worry or care.
I soon became pregnant and our first child was born just before our first wedding anniversary; our joy was complete and our future set. Living close to our parents offered abundant babysitting services whenever I felt tired or simply overwhelmed and I welcomed the loving support and sincere advice my mother and mother-in-law lavished on me whenever I was in doubt about my parenting skills. I felt tired quite often and so we would spend Shabbosim with either family. Everyone said that the tiredness would pass and that all first-time mothers felt fatigued. Even my married friends who had newborns concurred, and told me it would get easier.
But it didn’t. By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I had to drag myself out of bed. My husband became alarmed when he came home from kollel and found me sleeping on the couch as the baby screamed in her crib. He insisted I make an appointment with the doctor for an intensive exam and blood work, and while we waited for the results, I suffered a miscarriage and lost the baby. At this point the fear for my health was very real, and I had to have someone come and stay with me during the day to help with my daughter’s care as I was now too weak to manage on my own. My doctor sent us to a specialist for more tests and my worst fears were realized. I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis), a disease that affects the nervous system, leading to loss of motor ability and, ultimately, in severe cases, complete dependency and early demise.
We clung together, my husband and I, we wept together at what had befallen us just three short years into our marriage. What would become of our life together? Although he promised never to leave me, and the doctors said that with medication and treatment, I stood a good chance of slowing the progression of the disease, dark clouds were already forming over our horizon. My in-laws began to work on my husband, telling him that it would be best for him and the baby if he would divorce me and remarry someone who would be able to care for both of them. My parents were devastated and shocked that these people whom they had become so close with and thought of as loving family would stoop to such tactics behind our backs, with the intention of ripping their grandchild away from them and deserting their daughter at such a crucial time. After much soul searching to find a way to forgive them, I found a way to understand why they were acting that way. What parent wants to see his or her child tied down to an invalid wife whose health will assuredly deteriorate with time? I almost convinced myself that this would be best for my child and for my husband, as I never wanted to become a burden to them.