Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Tammuz 5766 - July 12, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

The Unborn Children

by Sara Gutfreund

She sits in the garden beside the stone wall. In the waning, summer light, the stones turn colors — muted yellow becomes brick red which slowly transforms into the palest of pinks. As twilight fills the sky, she re-arranges the balls of yarn that are stuffed into the straw basket on her lap. All afternoon she has been knitting a blue and white blanket for her new grandson. She stands now and inhales the scent of freshly cut grass rising from her lawn. She notices that some of her geraniums are withering now. Bending down, she pulls off the dying petals and in a sudden barrage of images, her dream from the night before descends upon her.

There were two children standing outside the house on Guilder's Circle. The house looks the same in the dream as it had all those years before when they had lived there, but it is surrounded by a surreal mist. The children both have curly, black hair and gray eyes. One of them is a little girl with a plaid jumper and a green ribbon in her hair. The other child is a ruddy-cheeked boy with navy pants and a gray shirt. They are strikingly beautiful children. Climbing the steps to the porch, they stare wistfully at the scattered toys and wicker chairs. Then they begin to knock upon the door. She is standing by the living room window, peeking out from the layers of beige curtain. The children look achingly familiar but for some reason, she is afraid of them.

"Mommy, Mommy!" they begin to pound upon the door as they call to her. Why are they calling her "Mommy?" These are not her children! Finally, they turn away from the door and sit down on the porch steps. She can hear them beginning to weep. And then she knows. She knows who these children are. They are the children who were never given a chance to live.

She looks down now at the dry, curled edges of the dead flowers and remembers her younger years. They had wanted to be modern Jews. They were determined to keep their ancient traditions and still somehow grasp onto the American dream. They wanted the white picket fence, the two car garage, the dog and the two children. And when they were blessed with a boy and a girl in the early years of their marriage, they decided they could stop right there. It was enough.

More children would just be too stressful. They would interfere somehow with their dreams. And so they bought a golden retriever instead and watched with pride as their son became a little league star and their daughter became an honor student. Now the children were grown with families of their own, and soon after the nest was emptied, she and her husband had moved into a garden apartment at the edge of town.

They were enjoying their golden years together, but somehow this dream kept recurring. It began to haunt her, but she couldn't speak about it. Her husband would think she was being ridiculous. They had never regretted their choices, had they? But she knew. She knew that these children in the dream were meant to be hers, and now, they were beyond her grasp.

She let the dead flowers fall upon the grass and picked up the soft blanket that she had been knitting. Pressing it to her cheek, she wiped away the stray, unbidden tears that filled her eyes. Would the children come to her every night, begging to be let into her home? She thinks of her cowardice in the dream — how every night she hides in the folds of the curtains — afraid of her own guilt. But maybe tonight she would dream a different dream.

Maybe tonight she will open the door when they knock. She will embrace them and wipe away their tears. She will welcome them into her heart. But somehow she knows that she can't do that. As she walks back into the apartment, she realizes that there will always be that closed door between her and her unborn children. She is stuck behind the curtains, and all she can do now is weep with them.


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