For the first time, a little voice whispered in my consciousness, Chezky has to have somewhere else to live
Tzippi? It’s Rochel Goldberg, the shadchan. I was wondering why you didn’t get back to me yet. It looks like I’m getting a yes from Yehuda Aron’s mother, but she said she doesn’t think you’ve made any phone calls yet? Are you not interested?”
It’s incredible how the world can function on parallel planes of existence. On one level, there was life out there, people redting shidduchim and expecting to be called back. That plane was barely visible in my life; I was careening on much shakier ground, trying to keep my balance while navigating my inner world of wackiness.
With our psychiatrist Becky’s support, we’d decided to try to wean Chezky off his meds by ourselves. At home. With us. Petrifying. The thought of rocking this already shaky plane of our life was sending me into waves of panic. But the doctors kept mentioning that the psychosis may have been caused by contraindication of his medications, and since Covid seemed to be here to stay, there wasn’t a single hospital that was willing to admit him through this process. Unless we found the right dosage for him, Chezky could swing from being Hashem to being the Malach HaMaves, and I didn’t know which one was scarier.
I heard Rochel Goldberg still talking, her voice sounding tinny and echoing in my exhausted brain.
“Yes, we’re very interested in Yehuda!” I said, hoping there was enthusiasm in my voice. Was his name Yehuda? I think his name was Yehuda. “I’m sorry we haven’t followed up as fast as we’d like. You know… with Corona and all....” I let my voice trail off. Corona was the excuse for everything these days. Why couldn’t I jump on the bandwagon too?
I assured the shadchan we’d be in touch within the next few days and hung up, feeling dizzy with overwhelm.
How was I supposed to do this? How on earth was I supposed to navigate shidduchim for my firstborn, who deserved my attention and the opportunity for her own future?
I felt so pulled, so wanting to be the best mother to all my children. Why should the others not have their parents simply because Chezky demanded our whole being — leaving nothing for his siblings?
And for the first time, a little voice whispered in my consciousness, Chezky has to have somewhere else to live. Our family cannot continue to function this way.
I put the thought quickly out of my mind. This was not the way I viewed our challenges. Chezky was an integral part of our family, and throughout the years, I’d always strongly advocated the idea that having a special-needs sibling adds sensitivity and maturity to a child’s upbringing. That’s aside from the opportunities for daily chesed within the home. My oldest daughter, Tali, even got her BA in special ed, so intertwined was she in Chezky’s life.
I wasn’t prepared now to admit I’d failed. We’d rally; we’d do this, and we’d make it work.
“Ma, what do you think? Black or silver?” Tali was nervous, her heels clicking on the floor as she paced her room trying to decide which shoes to wear. She paused in front of the mirror, as if her very future was hanging on her choice of footwear.
A first date is a milestone, and I was determined to support my daughter through it. I’d made arrangements to have us meet the bochur at a nearby park (no hotels — thank you, Covid!), and I really hoped to go with my husband. I so wanted to see this boy for a few seconds, to stand with my daughter while my husband schmoozed with him, and to intuitively feel his personality, his vibes, in those few moments of chitchat.
But it didn’t seem like Chezky would cooperate. He’d been antsy all day, sensing the tension in the air. He’d always been fine-tuned to emotion, reacting to any tinge of emotional change.
Now, as I tried to concentrate on silver shoes or black, he was chanting behind me, singing, “One shoe, two shoes, black shoes, blue shoes!” and laughing like a loon.
My married niece offered to come over for an hour. She’s a tzadeikes, a sweetie of a soul, but I had to be responsible and decide if it was the right thing to leave the house for so long. (I don’t think I’d walked out my front door for weeks by then.)
Chezky had been better the last few days. Could I risk it? Could I not? Would my daughter forever remember that her mother couldn’t be at her side as she embarked on this new stage in life? And what if I made it to the meeting and then got a phone call with a shrieking Chezky in the background? That would be a DOA date right there, no?
I made it. We stayed all of two minutes. But I saw him. This bochur with the great smile who would end up being my first son-in-law. And I knew he was perfect for my daughter, for all of us, when, before the l’chayim, he asked if he could come to the house a bit early to meet Chezky without the pressure of other guests there.
Thank you, Hashem, for Your chasadim.
Making a Covid wedding was its own type of madness. With the calendar of Yamim Tovim, the engagement was very short. Stores opened or closed at random, wedding venues did the same. Still, Chezky was holding his own with new dosages of medications, and I was grateful for whatever shopping and errands I managed with my kallah. There’s nothing like a simchah to ground you, even if it was 24 hours before the wedding, and we had to change the location once again.
We hired a bochur whom Chezky knew to accompany him to the chuppah.
Standing underneath the Yerushalayim sky, my daughter in filmy white, I fought back the tears as I marveled that we’d made it.
My mind flashed back to my own chasunah, and I was struck at the person I had been then, the person I had become now. What had I envisioned as I stood under then under the chuppah? Certainly no inkling of connection to the reality of my life.
Hashem — I wouldn’t let the tears come, petrified they’d never stop once they started. But I davened, Please, Hashem, let them have a good life! Let them have the keilim they need to be strong and serve You, with whatever challenges You give them. Please, Hashem, let them know simchah in their life together.
With all I dealt with, I knew that life wasn’t perfect. But it was also so worth it.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 846)
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