Have you ever been lucky enough to see things in your life come full circle?
Yes, you read that right — the lady who writes the widow column is talking about feeling lucky. Because people who live through tragedy can then go on to feel blessed in other ways.
Do you ever look back at a sequence of events and try to connect the dots, like in the Purim story, to understand why things might have happened the way they did?
People as young as toddlers begin asking the fundamental and constant question: “Why?”
Asking “why” can mean different things in different contexts:
- Dealing with challenges: “Why did this tragedy happen?”
- Marveling at blessings: “Why do I get to be so fortunate?”
- Determining purpose: “Why do I write?”
- Making sense of events: “Why did our paths cross?”
We all want to make sense of things and, lately, I’ve been hoping for that type of clarity more than usual. I don’t know if it will happen for me in the grand scheme of everything, and I work at being O.K. with that.
Once in a while, I get a rare taste of that magic — a glimpse of the cosmic glitter that occasionally twinkles among the cobblestones of life. When I do catch it, it’s a beautiful thing and I become a more thankful person.
I’ll start from the beginning. Last year, when Naomi was in town, her favorite pastime was exploring local stores she hadn’t been to. We went to visit a new store on Central Avenue with health food products that aren’t found elsewhere in our neighborhood.
It had been a few months since Moshe passed, and while I was able to do functional things like wake up, get dressed, and pretend to the world around me that I was O.K., I was far from it.
I’m not sure what Naomi’s objective was that day, but I think the owner wanted to discuss having her promote his products on her social media platform. Instead, she introduced him to me, explaining that it wasn’t practical for her to be collaborating with him from her Detroit home. I, meanwhile, had little to no experience with social media marketing yet, had never put myself on camera, and certainly wasn’t planning on doing so at that point. I had seen my account as more of a creative outlet, like a hobby that just got popular.
Endorsements weren’t my thing. But I’m always open to trying new things, so we met, and he explained that he envisioned certain products featured on the page weekly, and we worked out a game plan. He and his partner–friend had created a unique type of store, and he was passionate about sharing it. After a few visits, I took a liking to the carefully selected products sold there and to the dedicated, hard-working owners. I found myself looking forward to going in there, and in between my online shpiel, we’d talk and connect personally.
The owners have been friends since childhood and quickly welcomed me into their world. They trusted my process and we would usually wing it, always resulting in funny and informative footage that was used on their page to feature their products.
Our conversations would inevitably travel to Y’s dating life, and at some point, he’d ask me if I knew any girls for him. I’d shrug and joke about the dates he’d been on lately, and then we’d part ways for the week, not thinking much of it.
A couple months ago, on an unseasonably warm April afternoon, I brought my little ones to my friend’s backyard where they happily jumped on her trampoline and played outside after having been cooped up for days. It had been close to a year or more since I’d seen this friend and we tried to cover as much ground as possible, chatting about our kids, changes in our lives, the best new recipes we’ve been using, everything under the sun.
At one point, she glanced at her phone and commented in passing about her friend’s daughter who, like so many others, was looking to date for marriage. She briefly described her and I grabbed my phone and impulsively texted Y, asking him if he was dating anyone currently.
After that, things started moving pretty quickly. Occasionally, I’d shoot him a text or stroll into the store and clear my throat expectantly, waiting for updates — and they were always good. I could see in his face that being with this girl was making him happier than he’d ever been.
Last time I was there buying some products, he told me of his imminent plans. I couldn’t help but cry. Partly because it’s a wonderful thing to watch a love story unfold from a front-row seat. But also because I honestly sometimes think that I’m not in a position to give to others anymore. I’ve been the recipient of kindness and care from so many people in so many ways. And I’m grateful. It’s a blessing to receive, but it feels even better to give. I never expected to have the chance to do something as enormous as this for someone. Maybe because I know the pain of being alone when you want to be together, I can more deeply appreciate this gift. I know, probably even more than they do, the incalculable value of finding love and the chance to build a home and future together.
Maybe I cried because it was overwhelming to see what can come of a random thought, a quick phone call — a whole new forever.
Maybe I cried because this is what I want, not only for them but for myself, for everyone. That hopefulness, that luxury to look ahead with shining eyes beside the person who makes them shine.
Maybe I cried because my heart sensed the inexplicable joy of marching bravely into an unknown future — to love, to build, to raise children, with no guarantees but fresh new love and unfettered faith.
Maybe I cried because I want their future to be long and healthy and joyful, because I’ve learned not to take that for granted. And maybe I want that for me, and my kids, and everyone else too.
Maybe this is why G-d sent me into that store with Naomi a year ago. I see the progression clearly now. Maybe that’s why I met Y and embarked on this partnership. This realization highlighted to me, again, how little we know in this world. How we’re subject to a small video clip of the present, and only in hindsight are we occasionally gifted some moments of insight to try and answer the endless “whys.”
We spend a lot of hours crying over the sad, unanswerable “whys.” It was a delight to shed tears of joy and hope for the privilege of helping and seeing Y connect to his “why.”
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away at the age of 40. She has been sharing her thoughts and emotions with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.