The Asoulins and Rafi stay as guests in Rena’s apartment; Yedidye and Rafi recuperate from food poisoning there, under Rena’s and Savta Asoulin’s supervision. Rena realizes that Suri’s assessment of Yedidye had been correct, and that she has been looking for the wrong things in a husband up until this point. The shidduch is redt, and they get married in Florida.
* * *
“I have something for you.”
Suri looked up from the book she was reading and smiled at her husband. It had indeed been a long road, but Suri and Leib had managed to overcome most of their differences and accept each other’s weak points in a reasonable manner. Shimmy and Mordechai were in a constant state of thrilled happiness, and Bubby Weinbach enjoyed the nachas. The baby on the way was a dream come true.
“You do? What could it be?” Suri asked.
Leib had often presented her with useful and innovative kitchen and household gadgets. Most of the time his gifts represented a touching level of consideration of her needs, and a sensitivity that she recognized and appreciated. It’s rare that a person can truly change, and of course the marriage wasn’t perfect. But so many things were better that it was hard to believe that the two marriages had happened to the same two people.
The main difference was, of course, the continued guidance from Rabbi Bergstein. Suri and Leib attended counseling sessions with him regularly, and had thereby developed a respectful and effective way of communicating with each other that was safe for both of them and free of acrimony. Regular fine-tuning was required to keep everything running smoothly, but this time they were both on board to see it succeed.
“It’s something I should have given to you a long time ago. It belongs to you, really.”
Suri’s curiosity was piqued, yet at the same time she felt a little nervous that Leib might have been keeping something from her. He sensed her concern and soothed her fears immediately.
“Don’t worry. I’m not hiding anything from you. I was just waiting for the right opportunity.” Leib seemed relaxed, so Suri calmed down. He held out a large briefcase.
“What is it?” she said again.
She put the briefcase on her lap, surprised at its heft, and slowly undid the clasps on either side of the hard leather case. Her heart was pounding and she didn’t know why. When she finally opened it, she gasped and slammed it shut again.
“Where did you get this?” she said, her eyes wide.
“From your father, zichron livrachah,” said Leib.
“My father? What are you talking about?” Rabbi Barkoff’s death had been a stronger blow to Suri than she had realized at first. It had taken months to shake off the pall of sadness that had enveloped her like a cloud.
“I think that deep down he wanted us to get back together. He saw some good in me that nobody else could see. Even though he offered me more money than I asked to motivate me to give up custody of the kids, he left me a little window to repair our marriage.”
“How?” asked Suri.
“He put a clause in the agreement that the arrangement would be null and void if we ever remarried. Of course, for a long time I never dreamed that would happen, but even dreams you don’t allow yourself to have sometimes manage to come true.”
Suri was pleasantly surprised once again by Leib. “They do,” she said softly. Although she still felt her father’s loss keenly, in this part of her life she was happier.
“I never felt that the money was mine. I had it, but I didn’t want to spend it. I guess something inside of me wasn’t entirely convinced that giving up on my family was such a good idea.”
“Oh, Leib…” said Suri.
“So, here’s every last penny. Twenty-five thousand dollars. The only question is what we should do with it. I can’t give it back to your father, unfortunately, although I’m sure he’d get a big kick out of it.”
“He would have, that’s true. We’ll have to ask a she’eilah,” said Suri.
“I just wanted you to know,” said Leib. “That this was my way of holding on to hope. It was not so easy to have the money and not spend it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money and seal the coffin on my hope.”
“I’m glad my father believed in you, Leib,” said Suri.
“He was just about the only one,” Leib replied.
Suri didn’t answer, she only bowed her head. Forgiveness had not come easily for her, but eventually it had. Rabbi Bergstein had taught them to treat their marriage as though it was the most amazing bank in the world. Deposits of clear and positive thoughts and actions would yield astronomical returns, and Suri worked hard to keep any negativity at bay.
“Thank you, Leib. This money means more to me than you will ever know.”
“I’m only sorry about the way I got it. It feels like ill-gotten gains.”
“Everyone meant well,” said Suri. “It was hard for all of us, but I guess families aren’t as easy to pull apart as people think.”
“Not easily severed,” said Leib.