Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bashert - Without the Mother of the Groom, for the Father of the Bride

(On June 21, 2014, my younger son, at the age of 29, was married. It was a lavish wedding. There were so many people in attendance at the New York Public Library extravaganza.  But not the mother of the groom.  I was not invited.  Below is a heartfelt letter that I wrote to the bride's father, only days prior to the wedding day.  I wrote it and posted it on my blog, as it was the only way I might be assured that he would see it and read it.......)

Dear Father of the Bride,

I'm guessing that as I write this, you are probably enjoying all the festivities leading up to your daughter's wedding - when she is to marry my son. In only two more days, you and I will be related.  Amazing.  Isn't it?

According to Midrash, after God created the universe in six days, He began arranging marriages.  According to Talmud, 40 days before a male child is conceived, a voice from Heaven announces whose daughter he is to marry (in Yiddish, such a heavenly match is called "bashert," a word meaning destiny). It is with all my heart and faith that I believe our families are going to be joined for a greater purpose.  People come into our lives as either a blessing or a lesson. 

Growing up in Bedford, New York, what were the chances that my 29 year old son would meet your daughter, a young woman from Millburn, New Jersey (only 15 minutes from my new hometown).  And the mere fact that you and I share so many friends and acquaintances?  Amazing.  I can't speak for your wife, as I have never met her, but I do think our paths will cross one of these days.  The world is getting smaller each and every day.

After you and I met, I was hoping things would play out differently.  Most often, parents play a key role in organizing and planning their children's nuptials.  It is an occasion of tremendous emotional magnitude. A wedding is one of the most significant of all lifecycle moments that a parent will experience.  Or not.

In this profound time, you may think you have merely inherited a situation.  I think differently.  It is my belief that if you are not part of the solution, that you effectively become part of the problem.  When, as a parent, you walk your daughter down the aisle on Saturday evening, the mother of the groom will not be present.  You have chose to exclude and shun me. Yes, I know my alienated son instructed you on that issue - but we all have choices to make.  If someone robs a bank, the guy driving the get away car is charged with a crime as well. 

My son is no longer a child.  He may think I don't know that.  But every scar in my aching heart tells me that he is now an adult.  You see, every Mother's Day, every birthday, every Chanukah, every Passover, every illness and every joy has been quietly calculated in the crevices of my heart.  And it all adds up to years of alienation.  Time that will never be regained. Every one of those moments when the fall out of our histories bled into the pain of the present. Today, he is my son.  And on Saturday evening, June 21 - he will be someone's husband.

As you walk your daughter toward the Chuppah, on that trail that may seem endless but takes only a may shed a tear or two.  As the wetness trickles down your cheek, I ask you to think of me.  Your daughter's mother-in-law.  And my own tears.  You see, I've been shedding them for days over this wedding.

My son is committing to a partnership with your daughter.  May it be one of blessed happiness and good health.  In a moment that will no doubtfully include feelings of great joy and celebration, will you not be reminded of the sadness and loss I feel?  The moment will never come again.  You could have done so much to change the circumstances.   It is easier for you to ignore me and hope I fade away. Sometimes the right decision is not the easiest.

Neither you nor your wife will acknowledge me, nor reach out to me regarding this blessed event that is to take place. This is my only way to communicate with you at this time. The bride - I wish I could meet her, but she has had no interest in returning my phone calls or emails as well.  I'm not going anywhere.  And every time you look at my son, I will be a sparkle in his eyes.  The good your daughter sees in my son, comes from me.  And I have the references to back that up.

Think about the way our children came together. Bashert, then it was always meant to be; it was fate.  Perhaps you can be the catalyst to bring peace between us.  Or perhaps your daughter will be the one to melt the ice surrounding my son's heart.  When my son was born, I held him in my arms and imagined his future - a life that always included me.  I never would have thought that a child who adored me so - right up until his 15th year of life, would turn on me as he did.  Hate has to be taught.  So, when you say that Parental Alienation is only a word - I beg to differ with you.  It's funny how I have all the documentation exhibiting a paper trail of estrangement, and you never asked to see any of it.  There isn't a day in the last decade that I haven't missed my son.  Even through his most unacceptable of behaviors.  For I remember the baby, the little boy, the young teenager - the one with the old soul and the heart of gold.  The young man who will be waiting for your daughter at the end of the bridal entrance, will forever be my son. And he knows that no matter what, he has his mother's unconditional love.

So, as the father of the bride, please relay a message from the mother of the groom.  I wish our children all that they wish for themselves and so much more.  May they find everything in each other that brings out the best of them. The goal of a great marriage is to go beyond the idea that you treat the other person the way you would like to be treated yourself.  I hope my son always puts your daughter first.  That is something that needs to be emphasized to my son. Unfortunately, he could not have learned such things by example.  May our children both treat each other better than they each want to ever be treated. I'm sorry, there is so much I wish I could write - but my own tears are getting in the way.

My present life partner teaches me something special every day.  So many times, I've heard him say, "It makes me happy to see you happy."  I pray that our children have reached the point where they achieve more joy making each other happy than in pursuing their individual happiness.

And as you "give your daughter away" on Saturday evening, you will no doubtfully feel a loss and bit of sorrow letting her go. Your eyes may become watery, should emotion take over such a sacred particle of time.  I will be crying with you.  Differently of course.  Remember, how you have the chance to feel that. To experience that with the young couple.  And how you have participated in denying me that - my own experience in seeing a lifecycle that will never come again.

Julie Levine
Mother of the Groom


Judy said...

Nobody could have written a more powerful, a more eloquent, a more heartbreaking, or a more respectful letter to someone who has shown you nothing but disrespect and dismissal. If he does nothing after reading this (IF he reads it) then he truly has a heart of stone. You remain, as always, the strongest woman I know. xo

Nadine said...

All of the people involved have absolutely no hearts except you Julie. It's as if they are aliens from another planet

jhlstyle said...

Writing from the heart is sometimes the only way to cope with a terrible situation. In my last blog entry, addressed to the Father of my son's bride, I poured out every hope and emotion my heart contained. I told it like it is, my disappointment and pain. I also expressed what I wish for the newly married couple, my son and his new wife. Sometimes, you can't just write warmly to or about someone. I wrote about the way it was and how I was treated. I wish people would behave better, so I could write only good things. I pray that some day - there will be only good things. Perhaps, the Father of the Bride will be my hero one day......