(Name was changed to conceal the subject’s identity)
My Dear Devorah,
I befriended you when you moved to the community when no one else would. Seeing a single mother not get shabbos invites brought back childhood memories of my own mother rarely being invited out after her divorce. I did not want to see your child be alienated. You were also a product of divorce. Solidarity shared. Though my husband was not comfortable at first having you around, you eventually won all of our hearts and left a lasting impact on our family.
My Dear Devorah, while others maligned you and warned me, I always stood up for you. Though we had little in common, too carefree and wild for my nature. I always made a point to visit you on shabbos and walk with you to shul. Always thinking of you and helping out financially. While others whispered that you were a “gutter rat” and would not even allow playdates with your child. I always admired your persistence to try and make friends.
My Dear Devorah, how my kids adored you! You were fun, the no rule mom. Your house covered in so many toys that you could barely walk without tripping. Like you always said “I want my child to like me. I don’t want to spend my evenings yelling.” Though I disagreed, I looked forward to chats amongst the clutter. Your high energy, loud laughter, spontaneous singing, all eyes always on you.
My Dear Devorah, I envied your confidence. Though ladies eyed you disapprovingly, it made no difference to you because you are beautiful. When you joyfully jumped in the bounce house at the community picnic, flashes of flesh met men’s stares while women worriedly looked. I only saw your innocence, you were one of the kids. From your curls to your curves you bounced noticeably. Always so comfortable in your body, the way I could never be. Social decorum, community standing and a shaitle reminding me of my responsibility. To never cross that line, never get too loose, senses closely guarded.
My Dear Devorah, oh how I craved to go to bars with you, though I could never bring myself to such a place. Such a scary world. I could barely look a man, other than my husband in the eye, yet wherever you moved all eyes danced with you. My job was to be your protector. Too free spirited for your own good. I worried about your child who mirrored my past. Yes I, we, my family looked after you. My husband shoveled snow daily by your steps, gave you rides since you could not drive, carried your child on his shoulders during Simchat Torah, while others steered clear. My children became your children. An extended family, since you had no contact with your own. And I became your friend, I really hope you thought of me this way. You were not just a chessed cause, though it may have started this way.
My Dear Devorah, the day we moved to the opposite end of the country we parted in tears. You hugged my children tightly. Leaving you all my possessions we could not pack, still wanting to take care of you as my family embarked on this journey. Our final goodbyes in the dead of night, as my husband waited in the moving truck “Just a few more minutes” I yelled. Though never comfortable expressing myself emotionally, I could not tell you what our friendship meant. Surprised that I was going to miss you. My rigidity no secret, you were not going to let me leave without a hug. Grabbing me closely, tears streaming, you kissed your love to me. Your lips unwanted, but I did not stop you, since words could not effectively communicate how you felt. Oh My Dear Devorah, how I loved you.
My Dear Devorah, you broke my heart, the way no one else could. As promised we stayed in touch and spoke daily. Terribly missing your reckless abandon, you showed me that life could be adventurous, but mostly I missed my confidant. I could share my past, my pain since we were on the same journey. Knowing your lack of community standing, my hopes, dreams and fears all safe from community gossip. You became a much needed best friend. After our ritualized nightly talk, I noticed my husband’s phone buzz. Instinctively grabbing it, to hand it to him, it fell from my hands, when photos you were sending him appeared one after another. Heart stopped beating. Images flashed. Thighs, a breast. Pinkness spread. A mouth. Your mouth! Opened wide for him, my husband. Screen shattered. Fog. What is happening? Frantically swiping body parts, every part of you shown. Desperately seeking an explanation. This was not possible! Oh My Dear Devorah, even with my gut punched, hot teared stained face, I saw you. Your beauty even in that moment of deep anger and betrayal, I could see your beauty and admired it, as I hated myself. Throwing up. Shaking uncontrollably. The two people I loved the most, loved each other more. Blaming myself, how I forced my husband to be nice to you. How I did not heed the community warnings. In my need to save you from my childhood pain, I wounded myself.
My Dear Devorah, after years of marriage counseling I could never get over what you two did. Apologies never made. Just a modern day break up. Confronting you, you laughed saying that you were actually trying to sext someone else and it was an accident. Although the chat history of you asking my husband to be your child’s father proved otherwise. A few hours later you de-friended me on social media, but since we have mutual friends you are always popping back in my world. A constant painful reminder. Still unashamed. A recluse, my shame, this scandal not only hurt my family but destroyed my ability to ever be open up to a friend. After all, if a frum person such as yourself could do this and my husband the chazzan could so easily lie, who can I trust? Walls built around me. You were my best friend, my husband’s lover and my children’s self appointed aunt. You filled many roles in my family. Knowing you, seeing the real you, your flesh, your soul, your secrets, knowing my husband was not the only husband you had known intimately in the community did not ease my pain. Angry with you for stealing my husband. Angry with my husband for stealing my best friend. Angered by my arousal for your rawness and lack of regard. You lived life in the moment. I needed and loved you both. Still wanting and needing you both. My lips have only been touched by you both.
My Dear Devorah, years of therapy could not resolve my feelings for you. The years my husband was inside you, were undeniably our best marital years. Dream trips to Europe, surprised by perfectly picked jewelry, his attentive touch, now knowing these were all your ideas. Should I thank you? Never suspicious. Thinking we were happy. We were happy. Did I ruin my life? What he got from you made him a better husband. Ultimately by moving he chose me. Never wanting me to know the truth. Betrayed more by lies, your feigning friendship, than what you did with him. We loved you and needed you. Wanting to hate you, plotting revenge, still too reserved to shout my pain at you. Frustrated by lies, loosing you both. Wondering, if you both were honest, would I have permitted a discreet indiscretion? Could I be that forward thinking? Forgo my Torah education, for progressive passion. Jealous of your shared secret, you could not trust me to be a part of it. Would I have understood?
My Dear Devorah, as my marriage ended, you remarried. My children lost a father and your child gained one. Your family increases with life inside you, as mine decreases. Gd has blessed you with marriage twice, while righteous tears still await their mate. What sins did I commit? Was I a sinner in a past life? Am I paying my dues to be punished so? My husband could not resist your seduction, revelations of therapy. My modest education could never bring my body to act as you do. Your relationship with my husband, gave him an outlet I never could. You are all that I am not. We moved, because he could not stop touching you, stop loving you. His eagerness to do handy work, whenever you called, was not for the mitzvah alone. Lies and deceit ended the marriage. Was I a decoy to get closer to him? Was the friendship a lie? Fear of abandonment all came true. The betrayal from a single mother hurts more, we are birthed from the same pain.
Oh My Dear Devorah, though you never apologized. I FORGIVE YOU! I need to forgive you. Forget you. Forget friendship. Confused by our friendship. Haunting texts, etched in memory. Positions, props proudly posing for my husband. Ethereal nakedness, the way I could never be, modesty forbid. Hating myself for wanting you to want me. I FORGIVE YOU! My beautiful, Devorah in my long lonely years still missing you and my husband. In madness, my love for you confuses me, betrays the hate I should feel. Real or not, you were a good friend when I needed one. My black and white world, turned inside out by you, My Dear Devorah, I’d love nothing more than to shout your sins from the rooftops, I’d take you down even if the shame kills me. But I cannot. I cannot shame your family, your child or my husband’s family in the process. Your secrets still safe. Long, lonely years, regretting not forgiving my husband for loving you, the way so many have. I chose to love myself more and leave. I do not know what is right anymore. Just know My Dear Devorah, that I FORGIVE YOU.
You are done. I release my memories of you, to be ashes. I will live again, not in your shadow. Your beauty will no longer haunt me. No longer believing in the inherit good in people, I will be stronger. Holding me down, your images paralyze my dreams. I FORGIVE YOU, so I may live again. I FORGIVE myself for ever thinking I was beneath you. I am better than you. I am a good mother, I was a good wife and I was a wonderful friend to you. I will always be better than you and walk proudly for my soul is clean. I FORGIVE myself for not hating you enough. Snake in the garden. I FORGIVE my innocence. You are a dead memory. Goodbye.
The woman who thought she could save you.