Jun 12, 2011
Breathing Underwater No More
R. B., who wrote about her struggles while Shidduch dating more than a year ago, tells the sequel to her story since she has 'emerged from her own pool of darkness.'
R. B. for COLlive.com
The crowd had waned. Most had trickled over to the other side of the field, where those who had completed the underwater swim were receiving medals, lavish attention and loud applause.
The blue speckled cap forged on. Behind her, she knew there were still a sorry few in her position. She must continue, at least to inspire them and spur them forward.
Her family sat on the bleachers, craning their necks in suspense and anticipation. If only they could do something. Anything. To help her in this journey, to bring the end nearer. But alas, the rules of the race had their hands tied. They could only watch in painful numbness as the others clambered out.
Blue speckled cap was almost alone now in her attempt. Even the others at the opposite side of the field were murmuring quietly about her. The festivities were over, it was time to move on. Yet some lingered, worried about the blue speckled cap. They approached her waiting family with sympathetic smiles.
“Let’s hope you’re all out of here soon…”
Words, only, but with so much connotation.
They smiled back, though they grit their teeth in determination and their eyes flashed with dignity.
“She’ll make it… she’s almost there now, look.”
And then, a sharp movement. Droplets of water arching onto the tarmac surrounding the pool. A wild hand reaching out to grasp the pool edge. Those waiting caught their breath, put a hand to their throats in eagerness and nervousness.
A head surfaced. Gasping for air and relishing its boundless measures. The hand clutched the side of the pool, knuckles white with effort and strength. Eyes followed, eyes wide with surprise and shock, looked over at the small gathering as the second hand made contact.
For a moment, the head laid itself softly on the grass. Blue speckles stood out against dark green. Then, slowly, the hat was removed and thrown out toward the bleachers. The gasping mother caught it, her face gradually lighting up.
Blue speckled cap placed her palms firmly on the grass and hoisted herself from the water. Her euphoric smile widened, softening her pained expression. She breathed in the sudden rush of air, filling her starved lungs. Then she laughed in delight, rivulets of water dripping down her face, mingling with her tears of relief. There were no words to describe her feelings of freedom, of joy, of indescribable happiness.
The atmosphere around her had visibly changed. The air, charged with tension before, now seemed light, golden almost. The journey was behind her, the moment was now. Congratulations and good wishes washed over, more intense in their meaningfulness than with the previous swimmers.
She stood amid all the blissful attention and her heart soared with the knowledge that she had tried, persevered and accomplished.
She looked back at the pool, where two or three friends were still struggling against the opposition. She remembered her own path and knew she would not forget the troubles and tribulations so fast. ‘I’m here for you,’ she whispered to them, willing them to hear. “I know the feeling of that darkness. I’m grateful that I emerged into light, but the pain doesn't just disappear- it gets overcome by the joy. It will forever enable me to reach out to others with sensitivity and understanding to their situation and to enable me to pray wholeheartedly that they came out of it.”
Yes, I’ve emerged from my own pool of darkness. And I promised that when I would, I would write a sequel to my ‘Breathing Underwater’ experience. I remember that when I read the request, despite my promises, I scorned at the very idea. The end did not seem near; it seemed sometimes likely that it might never come at all. Indeed, there were days when I resigned myself to living in the blackness forever and somehow making the most of it.
But Hashem runs the world, and it is He who can scoff and scorn, not us. And while I am grateful that He mercifully extracted me from my despair, I am also humbled and feel unworthy. My faith was not always so strong; my Emunah waivered more than once. Yet, I was deemed fitting for a salvation.
I always knew the Passuk, ‘Yeshuas Hashem Keheref Ayin’ and appreciated its value. Today, I don’t just appreciate it. I know it. I relate to it on a personal level. For in a short space of time, shorter than I could have ever imagined, I met the man whom I am now engaged to, the man who shone a bright light and opened a tunnel I thought did not have an end.
Yes, the joy and happiness is beyond description. I cannot put words to it, no matter how much I try. The feelings of absolute ecstasy are so overwhelming sometimes that I find myself positively breathless. That I should have my own happy ending, that I am deserving of a miracle like this one is a concept I still have yet to absorb. That I have been granted the opportunity to believe and trust again in mankind, in the world, and in Hashem’s kindness- is the most wonderful and wondrous thing.
The reactions of the world were… unreal. I never have experienced so much love, so much selflessness, so much care. So many made an effort to show me how my news touched them, inspired them, cheered them and made their day a better one. The extent of brochos and well wishes I received via all forms of communication blew me and my family away.
My cup is almost full. I only pour out a portion of my happiness to those still out there, still swimming, still trying to reach the end. Yes, I have emerged. But the droplets of water take time to dry. The memories of the hardships do not leave with me as I leave my parents home. Rather, they cement themselves onto my heart, a painful reminder of what might have been, a constant souvenir of my arduous journey and the depths of despair that engulfed me. The despair that still engulfs others…
I am no longer breathing underwater. I take fresh, healthy gulps of air, filling my lungs with the freedom I have gained. I look beyond the horizon, toward the future.
And still, I pray for those navigating their heart wrenching path. May they emerge soon, with praise and song, like I did.