Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where authors and readers come together!

This is the remainder of "Shabbos Minchah With Reb Isser" that ended up on the "cutting room floor". Scroll down to find the link to the story. The editor ended the published version at a very appropriate point. I was actually quite pleased with what she did, but this original ending is a great story in and of itself.

I did as Reb Isser had advised. I could no longer ignore my problems at home, hoping they would simply disappear. The decision I made to keep Shabbos by myself-though difficult- was one I felt I needed to make. The experience not only did not weaken but strengthened my resolve to live more observantly. We did try marriage counseling, but I am certain we both knew ours was a case of too little, too late. If nothing else, counseling delineated our differences so sharply that our irreconcilability became a foregone conclusion.

“I feel this emptiness in my gut,” I confessed to her. We were out one summer evening and had stopped to pick up some ice cream. The kids were home. There wasn’t much time to talk things over. It was just around sundown. I noticed several cars hurriedly pulling into the parking lot of the shul just across the way from where we had parked the car.

“I want to be part of that,” I said, pointing to the shul. “But we’ve not lived that way. It’s too much. We didn’t raise the kids in a kosher home. I just don’t get why you cannot be happy with where we are.” “Jan,” I turned and looked at her, “I don’t understand it myself, but I know in my heart it’s real.”

We headed back home. “You’re sure about this?” she turned to me, “because I can’t go with you.” “I know that, I really do,” I smiled at her understandingly.

“What about the kids?
Jan asked. “Tonight, we’ll tell them tonight.”

“Your mother and I love you unconditionally,” I began. I looked at her, the mother of my children and wife of twenty-four years, as if to get the final go-ahead. She nodded approvingly. “But Mom and I have decided … “

Zac, our youngest, wept a little boy’s tears. Ben, our oldest, was incredulous at the announcement but had known something was not right between us for a long time. Kimberly, our middle child, had just completed her freshman year at the university. Her mother drove down and told her on the way home.

I moved out of my house soon thereafter to a nearby apartment. Our children remained at home with their mom, but I tended my bonds with them unfailingly. Never too adept at map reading and unaware of its many stumbling blocks yet before me, I trod the path of Jewish observance very cautiously lest I become irretrievably lost.

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