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And suddenly I was there, thrust back to the person I used to be. I was that girl, trying to survive the prison of her own mind, trapped by the things they did not tell her. But now it was 10 years later, and I could grasp the horror of what happened. The force that had swept through me returned, and it knocked me out completely, because the relief had turned into shock and grief. For the first time, I cried for my perfect child.
It’s been many weeks since I learned about the picture, the one I cannot bear to see. There is a hole tearing my heart. I grieve the loss of joy and life, of motherhood stolen and brutalized; I grieve the loss of reason and sanity, of the lives of girls, barely women, helpless in the face of religious law.
There are times when I can’t stop crying, haunted by the relief I felt at the death of my own child. I don’t know if the grief will ever stop, because I don’t know how to ask my baby for forgiveness. I don’t know how to tell him that things should not have been that way, and that I do cry for him, often now. I don’t know how to reach out to him, to show him that the love was there, only the strength was gone.
I don’t know how. I don’t know how to do this. This is the thing they never told me.
Judy Brown wrote the novel “Hush” under the pseudonym Eishes Chayil. “Inside Out” is her essay series about life in the ultra-Orthodox world. It is based on true events, but her characters’ names and identities have been changed. Some are composites, comprising several real-life people. Visit her on Facebook at Facebook.com/JudyBrownHush