A while back I dated and fell in love with a friend’s roommate. The first time I saw him, I literally couldn’t feel my limbs, didn’t remember how to put one foot in front of the other. It’s the crazy stupid all encompassing love you see in movies, the kind you read about, blah blah blah. As our relationship progressed, I soon realized that his being Jewish was a big deal. Like, his dad’s a rabbi big deal. Like, I can’t even think about being with you if you’re not a Jew big deal. So, like the love sick idiot I was, I began reading books with titles like: To Be a Jew, Welcome to the Family and the best: Judaism for Dummies. I even went to his temple, listened, observed, saw his father be a rabbi to his congregation, signed up for conversion classes.
My family is Catholic. Not the kind of Catholic that just goes to Christmas Eve mass. My father goes to church 6 days a week, and my mother at least 5 days a week. They still cringe when I say jesus christ when I’m chopping onions. Growing up, my father would come into my bedroom and kneel beside me at night and we would say our prayers together. That kind of Catholic.
On Easter Sunday of 2007, my family is sitting around the dining room table eating lamb and roasted asparagus when my father starts asking me about my relationship, why I’m reading Judaism for Dummies, don’t I believe in Jesus Christ rising from the dead to join his Heavenly Father? I responded, as any know it all 24 year old would: because I don’t mind one religion or the other, I would convert to Judaism for him, and I’m going to. Seriously Margaret? I think if I had said: Hey, Dad, I’ve decided to be a dominatrix and I’m moving to a basement apartment in Bayonne—that would have gone better than me saying: I’m gonna be a Jew, because it just doesn’t matter to me that much.
Fast forward to a month later, I’m in the car with a friend when I receive a call from him: hey…um…we need to talk. For the record, get a better fucking line. I just don’t know where this can go…with you being catholic…and, my family doesn’t want…and then things just went black. I experienced my first true heart ache that night from the man I thought was going to be the man of my life.
To others, heart break is eating chocolates out of a box and watching bad TV, or going out and surrounding yourself with tons of people so you forget your pain. I chose silence and nothingness. I called Anna in Germany, and it must have been 3 am her time, but she picked up, and listened to me wail and sob. (come to think of it, I am pretty sure that only whales would have been able to understand me, but somehow, she understood my language.) Anna called me the next day and asked what I was doing, and I plainly told her I was staring at my toes. She said, ok, but pick me up from the airport first. She fucking flew across the globe to be by my pathetic side while I stared at my toes.
Other dear friends left words of encouragement on my doorstep, along with food. If someone walked by my front door, they would have thought someone had died. Loss of love is like a death; and the mourning process is unique in the fact that everyone that cares about you and you them are still in your life.
So the moral of the story is this: don’t fucking change yourself for shit, ‘cause they’ll come and go, but you? You remain. And you have to live with you. And don’t tell your Catholic Dad you’re converting to Judaism on Easter Sunday. Bad move.