This past week I attended the wedding of the daughter of one of my closest friends in the world. This best friend of mine, Ora, and I have gone through so many of life’s challenges together that one might say we’re like sisters. So this past week I truly felt as if I was marrying off my daughter as well.
Getting ready for any big celebration is quite a feat, however in this case in particular there is a lot to tell.
My friend is a divorced mom for many years who basically raised her 2 children alone. Her oldest son got married over a year ago, and now this daughter. Divorces of any kind are never an easy matter and the children are usually the first ones to get caught in the line of fire, which means that they are the most vulnerable to be hurt.
Ora’s oldest son was close to her all along, while Ora and her daughter Sara’s relationship took off to a bad start almost from the very beginning, when Sara was only 10 years old. With the advice of different psychologists and social workers at Sara’s school Ora was advised to put Sara into an orphanage for children in similar situations that were not getting along at home as a result of a bad divorce or other critical conditions at home that wouldn’t enable a normal life for that child. Looking back almost 10 years ago I know my friend Ora regrets ever listening to all the advice she got and wishes she had the strength at the time to find a better way of dealing with life’s difficult challenges. But as the expression goes we are all very smart in hind sight.
Ora and her daughter had a very challenging relationship throughout the years. For the last 5 years Sara cut off all contact whatsoever. The pain was so great; any parent could just imagine how hard it must be when one of their children is so hurt that they can’t even speak to their parents.
In the last year, after years of prayers and tears that could fill up the ocean, Sara started to reach out once again to her mom. The contact was few and far between, but it was definitely a beginning. The conversations Sara had with her mom sounded like a drill sargent commanding his soldiers, but Ora was willing to take any sort of connection, and believed or hoped that it would balance out eventually.
Half a year ago the orphanage that Sara basically grew up in since she was 10 found her a nice boy to marry and the 2 decided to get engaged. Sara didn’t bother telling her mom since she felt that she wasn’t there for her all the years so now she didn’t have to be involved either. Ora’s oldest son Yosef told his mom about the engagement, which of course Ora wasn’t invited to.
Ora was happy for her daughter but was so broken inside. The wedding was set to take place half a year from the engagement right before the holiday of Purim.
The thought of someone else walking her own daughter down the aisle made Ora sick and she could barely function. Ora cried to me daily and hoped that salvation would come from somewhere. The orphanage planned a small wedding that was basically nothing special.
Every bride dreams of her wedding dress and day from the age of 5. The thought of having a small to very minimal wedding caused Sara great distress and she was beside herself thinking of a way to change the situation.
Ora’s salvation came. The phone rang and it was Sara on the other end; “Listen – get me money for the wedding. I can’t get married like an orphan. I just can’t.”
Ora was shocked. Money to offer she didn’t have, but now she had a mission and she had to seize the moment.
Ora set out in search of donations and of any ideas from where she could gather the money required. She turned to her siblings who agreed to help her since they felt that this would really be a chance to open the path of communication between Ora and her daughter.
Sure enough the money was raised and the reunion between mother and daughter began. The next few months seemed to fly by and the connection went and got stronger from day to day. The two were finally together and happier than they could have imagined.
It was not easy to let go, as Sara was getting married and moving to a different city.
The wedding day arrived. Everything was perfect just like Sara had imagined and she knew that it was all due to her mom’s efforts. It’s always emotional to walk your child down the aisle. But in Ora’s case it was overwhelmingly emotional. Her dream came true.
This wedding of marrying off a child even though the child was biologically not mine was the most moving wedding I’ve ever attended.
May all of our dreams come true.