Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happily ever after

When my father died, I thought I was covered for life.

I'd paid my dues. One hardship per person, doesn't it work like that?

"You'll see that from now on life will go smoothly for you", said one illustrious Rebbetzin.
"God is the father of Yesomim." The other rabbis said. "You'll have special Siyata Dishmaya in all you do."

When my years of dating don't bring me where I want them to, I can't figure it out. Making aliyah, tick. Losing father, tick. Older single stuck in the "shidduch crises", surely that can't be meant for me too?

I resign myself to my not-yet-perfect life. I just need to get married. One more trial to get through, and I'm home free. Then life will be perfect. Happily ever after. Sure, I'll have to deal with Parnassah, and Shalom Bayis, and Chinuch Banim. But that's OK. That's life. I can't wait.

Around me, my friends and peers marry. Ecstatic weddings followed by marital bliss. They settle down as newlyweds, in the cheaper suburbs of Jerusalem, in Kiryat Sefer and the South. Wedding invitations become scarce. Instead arrive the text messages announcing the birth of kids, the Brits and the Kiddushes.I visit 2 bedroom apartments, and admire their new decor. I buy baby presents, and play hide and seek with their toddlers.

I stand watching from the side. Sometimes I'm jealous, that's the ugly truth. I don't want to admit it, even to myself. I'm glad they are happy. I wait eagerly to be happy too, like them.

Life is taking over. We are growing up.

I call my friend, I know she's due to give birth, any day now. I'm surprised I haven't heard from her in a while.
Her husband answers. She can't talk now, he says. He sounds awful. "How is she?" I ask. "Is everything OK?"
And then he tells me. He tells me about the ultrasound results they got a few months back. He tells me about the physical state the baby is in now, and the emotional state she is in.

Pieces fall together. The way she cut herself off, this year, from the rest of us. The fear she must have been living through, the grief. And I thought she was self absorbed, I thought she was drifting in a hazy and blissful cloud of contentment. I hang up the phone and cry.

I finally open my eyes, and take a look around me, around my world. One friend lost a child, another's husband was injured, another is struggling with infertility. And the others, those whose lives don't run to headlines, I begin to realize they must have their struggles too.

Life is what lies beyond the diamond ring, beyond the Chuppah. Real life. Not a fairytale.


  1. Wow, thats an amazingly sad post. Its very true though that people waiting to get married convince themselves that once the sheva brochas are over life will be perfect. Life is always a struggle.

  2. Wow, this post really touched me. Very true, and very poignant.

  3. Quote from a contemporary shidduch book: "Getting married does not solve all your problems. It only solves the problem of whom you're going to marry."

  4. I think what's saddest is that people you trusted- rebbeim, rebbetzins, led you to believe that "it would all be smooth sailing" after your previous tragedies. That's just not how life works. "Marital bliss" exists for maybe the first few hours after a wedding, if that. Marriage and kids involve an incredible amount of work, and sailing in under the wrong impression makes it even more difficult.

    I wish you much hatzlacha in finding your way.

  5. this is a very touching post. whats important to realized though, is that you have learned something that a lot of people don't learn until after they are married. Now you know that it won't be all hearts and flowers, and you realize there will be tough times. IMHO that prepares you better for the ups and downs of marriage.

    I wish you much hatzlacha in your search for your beshert.

  6. That's what I find to be one upside of not getting married 1-2-3. While of course I am chalishing for Mr. Perfect-for-Me, I think an awareness that two people do not just stroll into the sunset comes with . . . I hate to say "age."

    One sees young couples brimming with joy and then they divorce. Young couples brimming with joy and tragically have an unwell child, or no children. It definitely is an eye opener, and I think in terms that if it will take a little longer, but be for the better, then no problem.

    Of course there are young couples who brim with joy and seemingly stay that way, but it's probably not a naturally occurring thing, but also required effort.

  7. Actually, your realization is very important - in terms of picking the right life partner. most people, in the whirlwind of the dating period, pick the person with whom they have tremendous fun, who keeps them entertained, with whom they love sharing happy moments - in short, the person they want to go through the good times with. What they should be doing (in addition) is considering who they want to go through the bad times with: who won't run? Who can actually support you? Who is calm, sensible in times of trouble? Because there will be bad times....

  8. Wow, nice post. It bothers me that people said that to you. It's like when people "you deserve better than that" "you didn't deserve that." Oh really? Since when do people get what they deserve, since when do we deserve anything? But still, as much as people say it's still plenty hard after you get married and you don't know what goes on behind closed doors....you (hopefully) have a partner after that; you're not alone. You have someone to share life's challenges with. And that, I think, is pretty huge.

  9. quite powerful - a real eye-opening post that demonstrates that "life isn't pashut," as a friend of mine says.

  10. it wont be happily ever after once you marry. but you will have with whom to share those struggles. IYH soon!