I had started to ponder how much better life would be, how much simpler things could be, if indeed Sam would convert. Even if it was just for show.
Sam asked if it was just for show, why didn’t we just lie and say he was Jewish? Good point.
I asked my father this and he was adamant that it needed to be done by a Rabbi. He gave me information of a Rabbi not too far and although he was a reform Rabbi my father was still keen with the conversion idea.
Sam and I talked about it. A lot. We went round and round. I knew Sam didn’t want to do this, but I also knew he would do this for me. Was this fair? No. But I couldn’t help think that it would solve everything! So naive I was to think this!
So I started to compose a letter to the Reform Rabbi. I tried to get my thoughts, my feelings, some background to why we were interested in converting Sam.
The more I wrote, the more things became clear. I could see that my justification for conversion was wrong. Very wrong. And if I were to be true to myself and true to Sam and RESPECT Sam, then I should not have him convert. This was so wrong. So very wrong on so very many levels.
And so began the attempt to communicate this to my father.
He wouldn’t listen. He kept arguing and kept trying to point out how this would benefit me, benefit us. ‘Round and round we went for days and weeks.
I stopped answering his calls. I was fed up, I was tired and this was just too draining.
Nearly a year had gone by and during this time I still had not spoken to my mother. She just was incapable of talking to me. It was heartbreaking.
Winter of ’99 right before the new year, Sam proposed to me. I said yes!
I was on cloud nine and so incredibly happy. I wanted to share the news with my family. When my father called, I told him the news hoping he’d be happy.
I look back at that time and see myself as such a naive and ignorant individual. So much yet to learn, so much hope for all things to turn out well and be good and right with the world. The harsh realities still being pushed aside and ignored. My heart breaks for that weak and naive girl that I was.
My father was not happy. My father was more determined than ever to get Sam converted and insisted on a Jewish wedding with a Rabbi. It was the only way I could have my family part of what was to be the happiest day of my life.
I reached out to my grandmother in hopes she would be more open to accepting my husband-to-be and perhaps attend my wedding. We had reconnected a few months back and she stayed in touch and seemed to want to be a part of my life. I was absolutely devastated when she told me she could not support me and would not attend my wedding. She explained that my parents did a lot for her and it would be very wrong to go against their wishes. I stopped talking to her after that day due to being so hurt. Three years later she passed away and we hadn’t talked since the day she broke my heart. Yes, I know. I, too, broke her heart. Too many people’s feelings were hurt here.
She and I were so close when I was growing up. I feel ever so guilty for not talking to her again… to this day I wish I had had a chance to let her know how much I had loved her. I know how stupid I was for cutting off ties over this. It was an emotional time for all.
I found out through my last conversation with my grandmother that my mother was in mourning as if I had died. I don’t know if she actually sat shiva or not, but I was just devastated. Instead of celebrating, people were grieving and mourning me as if I had died.
Between how I was feeling and other extraneous drama, we decided to put our wedding on hold. For now, we were together, in love, and decided to live our lives day by day without the negativity that seemed to be surrounding us. We didn’t need a piece of paper and a ceremony to be together. We were committed to each other and had been for years.
We did end up eloping three years later after we had our first child. It was just us, our daughter, and a judge. We didn’t need family, we just needed each other.
The last straw that severed ties with my family for a few years was when my father refused to accept Sam as he was and the fact that he kept pushing for conversion, a Jewish wedding and whatever else he could think of.
There were far too many hoops I had to jump through to have them be a part of my life. Even if I had jumped through all those hoops, would I not feel resentful and angry at them? Would it be worth it in the end? Absolutely not!
Coming to that realization allowed me to feel OK with severing ties for a good long, long time. I went back to the occasional email with my youngest sister and that was it. I changed my phone number, we also moved at that time and that was it. I didn’t want to share my new info and told my sister as much in an email. And just like that, they were out of our lives again and things were that much quieter and less stressful.
When I got pregnant with our first child, I started to feel torn again. Would my child ever know my parents, her grandparents? Would this possibly be worth another chance at reconnecting? Was I willing to take this chance?
I was four months pregnant when I found out that my grandmother passed away. I couldn’t stop crying. Like I stated earlier, she and I were very close when I was growing up. I was so upset over not having had a chance to tell her about her first great-grandchild. Just as I was debating whether to contact my family again, she passed away. I decided it would be a good time to reach out as my sister had just informed me in an email about her passing.
I emailed my family and sent my condolences. I told them that I was pregnant and would very much like to start over with them. No more demands, no more pushing and insisting on conversion, no more talk about what was expected. I told them they were welcome to be part of our life and to be part of their granddaughter’s life if they wanted to be. I told them that it was all up to them and until I had such a reassurance I was not going to share my address and number. I did not want to walk into what was a few years ago. This is who I am, this is how it is. I am unwed, pregnant, and living with the man I love -take it or leave it. And that pretty much sums up what I wrote in my email.
They emailed me back saying that they would be happy to be part of my life and would accept me as I am. I was surprised to read that but hopeful that this would be a good start.