Anything Can HappenIt was 1989 and the road ahead looked bleak. I was forty years old, and I had recently been through two major spinal surgeries and a painful divorce. I had few job skills and was leaving my hometown on the West Coast with my two teenage children to move cross-country and begin life anew because I could not afford to stay in California. The future looked uncertain at best.
I had had a happy marriage for many years, but it ended badly. I thought I couldn?t live through the pain. Afterward I arranged my life with peace, privacy, and protection as my goals by erecting an emotional wall, which only resulted in keeping me from finding future happiness. I didn?t believe there was any happiness in my future.
The children and I settled into our new hometown in Pennsylvania and became part of the Jewish community. As a convert, I greatly appreciated the hospitality and kindness of many people who became dear friends. In time, they wanted to help find a shidduch for me. During my first three years there, I was able to do some important inner work of healing, and I did a lot of thinking. I moved through conflicting periods of ambivalence and that of mild interest regarding remarrying. It seemed there were a considerable number of strikes against me: I was a convert, and not everyone is willing to marry a convert, as I found out. I had home-schooled my children, which was considered by many a bizarre thing for a Jewish parent to do. I was a vegetarian (you don?t even want to know the comments I received on that one!). And I had had two major spinal surgeries.
But the more I thought about my life, the more I realized that I was not an old woman yet (and even if I was, it?s never too late!), and I felt I had much to bring to a marriage. I knew my children would soon be grown and gone from home, and I pictured myself sitting on my front porch knitting into the wild-blue-yonder years. I didn?t much care for that picture. My life was peaceful and calm ? something I valued very much ? but also very lonely, and I began to question the idea of willingly remaining single for the rest of my days. Those days now stretched into some very long and lonely years in my imagination.
Something began to arise within me that made me feel hopeful, positive about the future, and open to the tomorrows, something that made me willing to think about my future with a husband in it. I tentatively started going to a few religious events for singles and looked into other avenues for meeting people. I began to take an active interest in helping out my friends who were also looking to remarry. Although there were still some periods of ambivalence about remarrying, I could feel my attitude slowly softening.
Then it just happened, out of the blue. One Shabbos, on my way to a Shabbos kallah, I was accosted on the street by a fine lady I was only acquainted with since we went to different synagogues. She informed me that she knew a nice man whom she and two of her friends thought I should meet, and she began telling me about him. I indicated my reluctance, and this did not sit well with her. She pointedly said to me, ?What do you mean? You haven?t even met this person! You might be saying no to the most beautiful thing that could ever happen to you. And besides, that?s not how we do it!?
I cringed and replied, ?Oh. How do we do it??
That suited her better, and she explained that I should agree to have this gentleman call me. If that went well, we should arrange to meet in person at least one time. Then and only then would I be sufficiently informed as to whether this shidduch had possibilities or not. But until I completed those initial steps she felt I had no right to say no. If I followed this plan and decided after meeting him that the answer was no, she could handle that and all would be in order. So I agreed and gave her my phone number. She had already asked me questions about my preferences and priorities in a future husband, and she had spoken to him, too, so we were each given information about the other beforehand. This lady knew how to do her homework.
That very evening my phone rang, and this gentleman and I spoke for nearly four hours! Speaking with him was easy, heartwarming, and enjoyable. We arranged to meet a few days hence. Our first date went well. We discussed so many things, including spirituality, parnassah, health, hobbies, family, goals. I was now forty-three years old; he was fifty-three. We both had baggage.
To my utter amazement he asked me to marry him one month after we met. I should have been alarmed. But because we had spent countless hours getting to know one another in a setting that allowed us to focus on the spiritual, mental, and emotional components without the distraction of the physical, we both felt that the decision-making process was that much more clear and straightforward. In short, it allowed us the ability to really see through to the other person?s inner essence, without unnecessary distractions.
Our dating and his proposal really made me search very deeply into myself. I had the distinct sense that this man was an honest person and that he had my best interests at heart. Only Hashem knows what each of us has gone through, and only He knows how to bring us someone who will be the right match for our needs and desires. I felt this man was not only honest, but that he was also the kindest person I had ever met, and he had a strong and delightful sense of humor ? two things that were at the top of my list.
I must say that I did not see stars or hear bells or even feel much of anything of a romantic nature before we married, and this concerned me a bit. I asked a wise rebbetzin about this and received an answer that set my heart at ease. I felt this man and I had the qualities it would take to build a peaceful, joyous Jewish home and that feelings of love would come in time. Furthermore, my children were not such children anymore; by now they were twenty and eighteen years old. They were excited for me and very supportive of my remarrying. So we happily proceeded with our wedding plans.
We were married in September 1992, and I can now say that making the decision to marry this gentleman was the best decision of my life. I am thankful for wise friends and for caring people who helped bring us together.
We have had our challenges ? some very serious health and financial ones ? but I am so thankful we have had each other to share the load when times are hard. His kindness and especially his sense of humor that I?d noticed initially have been lifesavers so many times in the past ten years.
Seven months ago we made aliyah to Israel ? something we could not have foreseen with the challenges we have had in our lives. But it seems that when Hashem deems something should be, there is nothing that can stop it. We arrived in time to celebrate our tenth anniversary in this holy and blessed land. We are delighted to be here. Each day is a new blessing, almost like a mini, personal miracle.
In retrospect, many people told me that if I wanted to find a husband I?d have to go to New York ?where all the men are.? I could not do that for several reasons. Hashem in His mercy brought my husband to my doorstep. I have been told many times that this does not happen very often, that usually ?older? people have to travel to other cities to look for a spouse. It doesn?t matter what other people tell you. If Hashem decides it?s the right time, He is able to bring your match to you in ways that are outside the formula most people adhere to. Hashem is not bound by our small rules! And He knows our abilities and is merciful.
This does not mean that one can sit back and do absolutely nothing, no hishtadlus, toward helping oneself get married. If my rebbetzin had told me to, and if I had been able to, then I would have had to move in order to find my zivug. Hashem in His mercy brought him to me since He knew I could do no more than I was already doing. I tried to the best of my abilities, and Hashem did the rest. If something so beautiful can happen to me, at the age of forty-three, with several unusual aspects to my background, it can happen to anyone.
Do not lose hope ? it can happen! Oh, and by the way, those feelings of deep emotion did come, after all.