Monday, November 22, 2010

Battle Scars

"...And so Hakodosh Baruch Hu chooses a particular couple who will draw such a neshama down to this world. The neshama departs from the kisei hakovod and is immediately placed in an environment in which it is at home - an environment which is heavenly in nature, for an isha me'uberes carries within herself not only a child, but an entire Gan Eden as well.....

However, those special neshamos of which we have spoken above cannot bear to separate themselves from Gan Eden and sully themselves by entering this world of gashmius. And so they are spared from undergoing this discomfort and are returned to the lap of their Father in shamayim, having fulfilled their mission by leaving the heichal haneshamos, thus bringing Moshiach closer.

And what of the mother who had suffered, hoped, and in the end was so disappointed?

She is of flesh and blood and her feelings are understandable. However, in loftier moments - in moments when her wisdom can overcome her emotions - then she can free herself of her earthly thoughts and join in the elation enjoyed by her neshama. Then she will become possessed by a feeling of true joy - the joy of a wealthy man who takes reckoning of all his business endeavors and sees that the profits far outweigh the expenses.

She has merited to have as her guest a pure, holy neshama, accompanied by heavenly light, heavenly malachim and a heavenly Torah. Hakodosh Baruch Hu has chosen her guf to be the bais midrash of this neshama. And when this neshama leaves her, something of the kedusha that entered her will remain, and will not leave her for the rest of her life.

She was zoche to bring Moshiach's arrival closer by offering a sacrifice for this purpose. She is left with no mother's compensation; what she has endured has been for Moshiach's sake alone. She has served as a loyal soldier, not as a worker who awaits immediate payment. She has served with the loyalty of a soldier who is ready to suffer wounds in battle, if necessary, solely for the glory of the king.

Was it all worth it?" *

I lay on the stretcher, consumed by the ache in my heart. I don't want to be here. I barely register the needle in my arm, as I drift into blessed I embrace the blessed release of sleep...numbing the desperate ache inside me.

And when I am awakened, my baby is gone.

It was a normal, uneventful pregnancy, and we eagerly awaited the birth of our child.  We looked forward to our baby's upcoming arrival with joyful anticipation. We wondered whether it would be a boy or a girl..we speculated as to who it would look like...and we talked about who he/she would be named for.

And then, at a routine 16 week checkup, there was no heartbeat. My baby was no longer living.

I cried there in the doctor's office. I cried when I got home. And I cried the next morning at the hospital.

And then I was okay.

I got up, brushed myself off and moved on. I had other children to take care of. A miscarriage is pretty common, after all.

But I wasn't okay, really. Not inside. There was a very alive and real baby inside of me. A baby who died.

For a long time, I'd keep track of how old my baby would have been...should have been...and every time I'd see a child that age, it hurt.

Eventually, the hurt faded. It never disappeared, but it was replaced by a dull ache that settled somewhere deep inside me. I rarely thought about it. And when I did, it was just a fleeting thought. A tiny pinprick of pain.

But sometimes, during the time of year when we would have been celebrating another birthday, I think about it.

I wonder what this child would have been like. I wonder if he would have looked like any of his siblings. I wonder if he would have been quiet or outgoing. I wonder about how he would have changed the family dynamics. I wonder...but I'll never know.

But I do know that he would have had a place in my heart.

He would have been loved.

"Was it all worth it?

In painful moments when disappointment sets in and normal human feelings dominate one's mood, there may be one answer. However, when holiness breaks through, when the seichel of the neshama speaks and the joy of the Jewish soul bursts forth, then there is an answer of an entirely different nature. The answer is accompanied by the chimes of triumph, with the joy of the victor, with the deep-seated satisfaction of one who has earned something of immeasurable value...." *

I've suffered a loss. The ache never really goes away. There is no joy in that...for me. But there is acceptance. It's how it was meant to be.

And I've grown through it. I've learned the depth of sorrow. I've learned that life is incredibly precious, and that every moment shared together should be enjoyed. It's given me increased sensitivity.

There are no chimes of triumph. But I've brought Moshiach's arrival closer.

And that is a comfort.

*Excerpted from a letter written by R' Moshe Wolfson and translated by Rav Shimon Finkelman.
For a copy of the full letter, email me.


  1. I've never seen that letter. I would have loved to have had it when I needed it. Though the idea of a positive joy, versus merely acceptance, is one I'm still not sure I can relate to.

    This, I love so much: "She is left with no mother's compensation; what she has endured has been for Moshiach's sake alone." It gives it all a sense of dignity, of elevation, of the quietness with which mothers sacrifice every day.

    Thank you.

  2. It's that time of year for me, too.
    I did recieve that letter, but I think it wasn't until reading it here that I have finally really read it.
    Thank you.

  3. This is such a beautiful post. It makes you see it so differently when you look at it in that way. It's still so sad and painful, but at least you don't feel like it was all for naught.

    Thank you for sharing that with us.

  4. This post is precious. I think it should be mandatory reading for all husbands. As men, we fail to truly empathize the pain and the healing process women go through. We just don't get it, and to a degree it's understandable. Your post was an eye opener, and brilliantly conveyed. Thank you.

  5. I'm sorry you had to go through this. Must have been extremely hard.

    You have such a strength after going through this ordeal, BH; It is very hard for people to see the picture behind the scenes, but when they do, it's a small comfort.


  6. I went through a similar experience 17 years ago (i had a full term baby who was stillborn). It was the hardest experience of my life and it still hurts. I often think of this child, particularly on what would have been his birthday. A year later, i delivered a healthy baby boy who is now 16 years old and the light of my life. I often feel that I lost one child so that I can have my son in my life. It still hurts when I think of the child that I lost and I often wonder what that child would have been like now. At some point, although we all have to accept that Hashem has a purpose for doing things that we cant possibly understand, it still is very painful.

  7. I'd just like to say...after I posted this, I was a little nervous about it. It felt a little bit too raw - more personal than I am comfortable with. But the comments are all really sweet and understanding, and made me feel better about it. So...thank you.

    Staying Afloat...

    I'm not there yet, either. Maybe some day. But that way of looking at it is comforting.


    I'm sorry. (Hug)


    Right. I don't always remember that..that's why I held on to the letter for all this time.


    I think that men don't form a real bond until the baby is born. We have that much sooner. It's a loss for them too, of course, but in a very different way.


    Thank you.

    Anon... is still painful. But knowing that there is a purpose makes it easier to bear.

    Soul Comfort...

    Thank you.

  8. Woah, woah, woah, woah!!!!! This is SO extremely powerful!!

    I think this should be given to all kallahs (and chassanim too) while they are engaged or very soon after they are married - so they have the amunition, the chizuk, the proper words to comfort themselves if they go through something like this at any point in their lives. People may not realize how common it is and especially since it is so easy to hide the pain (like I always say, a little makeup and a smile go a very long way...what a mask!) but this is so comforting!!

    And I firmly believe that if a person fills themselves with chizuk before they are in a certain situation it helps them deal with it when it is thrown at them full force. A person can't gather strength when they are feeling oh so vulnerable and ready to crumble. But if they strengthen their emunah while things are still smooth, then when the tough times come around they can deal with it in such a better way!

    This reminds me of the way I feel about my brother a"h. Every year as his birthday passes I imagine what he would be up to at that specific stage in his life. His close friend just got married...what would his kallah have been like? But it was not meant to be...he is in a better place. But the pain doesn't go away - it's still there, buried deep's a different feeling than what you described but the pain of losing a loved one who lived a short amount of time also brings along with it similar thoughts of where would they be up to at this point in their life had they not passed away? And it hurts. But a Jew lives with emunah, because without that it would be so much harder to go through any sort of pain!

  9. Every birth is a miracle and we cant take it for granted. My heart goes out to you. I want to thank you for sharing that. It takes a strong woman to be able to experience something like that and move forward.

  10. Thank you for expressing my feelings so well. I just had a mis at 12 weeks. I too went to the doctor for a routine check-up & we did not hear a heartbeat. Three days later, it was all over. I did not go through periods of crying at all, but somehow, I feel like I have bottled it all up inside of me (wondering if it's healthy). I wonder how I will feel towards my niece/nephew that is due to be born the same time I was due (my sister and I were due three days apart?