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20,454 days of Heaven, 2,190 days of Hell

The Hebrew words “hashgacha pratit” refer to Divine intervention. This was the case which led to my marriage of 20,454 days, days of heaven. A few days prior, God Himself introduced me to the greatest love of my life, the brilliant light of my life. It was my heaven!

2,190 days ago He took my life’s light away from me and I live my days in darkness.

My children try to comfort me.

Looking at my wife’s photos, especially when sitting at the Shabbat table, I am often unable to control myself and to restrain my tears from falling. I am reminded that it is not permitted to weep or to mourn on the sacred Sabbath day. But I am unable to control my tears.

In discussions, some remind me that I had often criticized my wife. I was often short-tempered and my words were sometimes unkind.

But the love I bore for my wife, in spite of infrequent unkind words, was holy. I blessed her each morning of our 56 years together and each night before going to sleep we held hands together and told each other how much we blessed and loved one another.

The 56 years of our happy marriage, a marriage blessed by God who intended it, consisted of 20,454 days of heaven. It ended 2,190 days ago, days of sheer darkness, her light extinguished, 2,190 days of bitter hell.

I have no wish to go on living without her. The pain is unbearable. but my children are devoted to me.
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During the eight months of my wife’s battle with pancreatic cancer, I took care of her day and night. One day coming home from her chemotherapy session, she embraced me, kissed me and told me “no other husband would do as much for me as you do”. And I replied to her “any husband who loves his wife as much as I love and cherish you would do for a wife as I do for you. You and I are joined together in a sacred bond, bound together by the Hand and Spirit of our God who made our marriage possible”.

And every word I spoke was true. She was the greatest love of my life in heart and soul and mind.

While she was the perfect wife and mother I was not a perfect husband or father. While the cherished memories of our heaven are daily with me, the days of hell are destroying me.

What is the purpose of a life without a heaven?

It is often said that we ourselves make our own heaven or our own hell. I find it to be a truth. Many people lose a spouse to the angel of death but in time they overcome their grief, and the mourning comes to its required end. This is the normal manner of continuing to live.

I am acquainted with several people who have lost a husband or wife or child and after a period of mourning they return to life. After a time, many of them remarry and live happy lives. Not me. Not ever.

I was surprised that prior to her death my wife asked me not to remarry. She felt that our three wonderful children would share their love with me, whereas she felt that a new wife might not be as devoted to them.

I was stunned by her request, as I told her “what makes you think that I would ever remarry? It is simply and positively not in my mind. You are the only woman I have ever loved and no one on this earth can ever replace you. I will go on loving you forever as long as God gives me the days to live.”

And so far, He has given me 2,190 days to go on living… too many days of misery and loneliness, days of hell.

There is a knife stuck deep in my heart and I am unable to pull it out. Perhaps I am unwilling to pull it out. It is a sign of my continued mourning. Psychiatrists would take me as a patient and in time may have a modicum of success in restoring me to normality.

But it is I myself who does not entertain the thought of normality. Who and what would I be if I ceased my mourning forever, acknowledging the pain of death and the loss of my greatest love?

My three devoted children and three adult grandchildren and my first great-grandson now only 7 months old, are my sole strength and reason and purpose to go on living. They are my “psychiatrists” and their presence restores my soul and warms my heart.

If God gives me strength and good health, I may live to celebrate my 90th birthday in one year. I will certainly need the strength to blow out 90 candles and one for good luck on a birthday cake.

Friends insist that I keep on writing and sharing with readers my thoughts, my strengths and my hopes for future days that I may be restored to the days of heaven and dispersed from the days of hell. May Almighty God bless them all for their kindness.

Ken yehi ratzon. So may it be. Im yirtzeh Hashem. Insh’Allah.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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