Thursday, February 14, 2013

Expectations and Compromise


Every marriage is going to have different expectations and compromises.  For Rachel and I, the phrase "We want" was much more common then the idea of "I want".  In fact I am having a lot of trouble adjusting to thinking in terms of "I".  Most of the time when I have been asked "How are you doing?" I would respond by talking about how either Rachel or Channah were doing.  I spent a lot of time today, thinking about 3 different times, Rachel and I disagreed on what to do and how we compromised on a solution.  

Aliyah  -- Before we got engaged, Rachel and I discussed our future together.  There was one major hurdle.  While Rachel wasn't ready yet, she wanted Aliyah to be an option on the table. At the time, I wasn't really interested so I agreed to put it on the "10 Year Plan".  As our 10th Anniversary approached, we realized that we were not happy living in Toronto.  A few weeks after our Anniversary we made the final decision that it was time for us to go.  5 weeks later we were on an airplane.  My Father-in-Law described our Aliyah plans as "Fire, Aim, Ready."  While the last four and a half years have not always been easy, it was in the place where we could be the happiest.  Today marks the day where Channah has lived in Israel half her life.  She has thrived in her environment. Jazz, Violin, Ariel (Youth Group) and very special friends have helped her break out of her shell in the past year.  These are opportunities we would never have been able to give her in Toronto.  She is a really a special kid and I am glad that Rachel helped turn her dream into a reality.

Channah' Name --  A year before Channah was born, we went to the first ever A TIME Shabbaton.  I heard a Dvar Torah, that I decided I would give at Channah's baby name. Channah was born on the Shabbat of the 2nd ever A TIME Shabbaton. That Monday I gave over the Dvar Torah at her Baby naming. 

The night before the Baby Name (which Rachel was unable to attend because she was still in the hospital), Rachel contemplated giving Channah a 3rd name. I had learned from one of my Rabbi's that it was really important to call a person by their full name because their name defines the essence of who they are. This concept was important to me for at least a couple of month's after she was born.  We also had a disagreement on how we were going to spell her name.  I wanted the traditional spelling Chana with one N. She wanted Channah with 2 Ns which is actually closer to the proper Hebrew pronunciation. 

We decided to compromise. We would ask the next nurse to walk in the room, if we should go with 2 or 3 names. We would go with her decision.  One of us would get the spelling and one of us would get the name. Ami walks into the room and decides that three names is  "too long."  Who knows what would have happened if Bianka (the other nurse on duty that night) had been the first one to come in.

When we made Aliyah, people kept asking us how we were going to spell her name.  Rachel started telling people that we were going to spell it with a silent koof   (חנקה) Hunka.  Our friend turned to us and said "I had a Bubbie Hunka" It helps if you flex a muscle while you say it. 

Valentine's Day -- I wanted to have no part in celebrating Valentine's Day.  Rachel agreed, on condition that Tu B'Av would never be ignored.  Rachel's Mom used to receive flowers on the birthdays of her children.  My Father-in-Law figured after all she is the one who did all of the work.  So, on February 14th every year, I would buy flowers for Rachel for Channah's birthday. In the last little while I had gotten back into the habit of buying flowers for Rachel for Shabbat. The last time I bought flowers it was late in the day and they had run out of bouquets.  They scraped one together from a bunch of singles they had here and there.  I remember thinking that they were even nicer than what I normally buy.  As I passed the flower shop on my way home from the bank, I had a tinge of sadness realizing I would not be buying flowers anymore. 

Getting married at age 19 & 20 opens yourself up to a lot of criticism about getting married too young.  My Mom told me that we would have a special opportunity to grow together. Our marriage was far from perfect, especially as Rachel battled with depression.  At age 35 I can look back, at least knowing that we were able to function as a unit.  While that unity makes the loss all that much more painful, it is a goal that many people are not lucky enough to reach.

1 comment:

Netanya Hoffman said...

Beautiful post, Jason. Thank you for letting us in on a little piece of your lives. I love learning a little bit more about all of you through your blog and Facebook posts. I have learned a lot of life lessons from Rachel, even after her passing. It should be a zchut to her neshama that she is still teaching people how to get along and how to treat each other.