The Baal Teshuva and the Atheist: Part VI
By: Rochel Alkhazova
And All Shall Be Good
Lina didn’t notice how cold the bathroom floor was until she was shaken awake by Alex’s voice.
“Lina, where are you?”
“I’ll be right out. Just a minute.” Then she repeated silently to herself, “Just one more minute.”
She held the little test strip in her hand as if holding on to dear life. The test’s box said to read the results after three minutes, but she still had hope. Five minutes…no line. Ten minutes…still no line. She squinted, held the test far, near, next to a light, away from the light, squinted again…Oh, she thought she saw a hint of a line. Deep down inside she knew it wasn’t really a positive line, but she wanted it so bad that she could almost see it. Who was she kidding? She wiped tears off her face and viciously threw the negative test into the wastebasket.
“Where is your emunah?” she asked herself as she entered the kitchen, which seemed cold and grey.
“You ok?” Her husband asked.
“I guess. This one is negative too!”
“You have to stop testing. Relax and give it time,” he tried to reassure her.
“I gave it time! Three years to be exact…and your family—they are not helping, asking almost every day, Oh, when is the little addition coming? It’s not like it’s up to us, you know!”
She wiped another tear off her face. “I’m praying. I’m trying to hold on and have faith, but nothing is working—nothing! Maybe you can try and pray with me? Maybe it will help.”
“You know I don’t pray, Lina.”
She didn’t push it.
As time passed, they went to rabbis to get blessings, and they tried fertility treatments, but they were not successful. One day, as Lina was relaxing on the couch and reading a book, she heard a knock on the door. Alex went to open it. It was the sushi they had ordered for dinner. The frum delivery guy looked at Alex and said, “Have you ever heard these online lectures on Torah Anytime?”
“Nope. And I have no interest whatsoever!”
“But they are amazing. I was just listening to one in the car on the way here! I especially love the one that’s about emunah! Everything is from Hashem! Just remember—EVERYTHING!”
“Okkkkkkk,” Alex replied, tipping the delivery guy and quickly closing the door.
Before they could sit down, there was another knock on the door. This time it was a delivery—a few large packages that Alex and Lina did not order. There was a crib, a diaper bag, swaddling blankets, and other baby things that had been left at their front door. No signature required, no UPS guy in sight.
“Um. What in the world is this?” puzzled Lina couldn’t believe her eyes.
“Looks like baby stuff to me!” Alex replied, as he examined the boxes.
They quickly went to see if it was a mistaken address. Indeed, it was for the wrong apartment number.
“Maybe this is a sign from Hashem?” Lina wondered.
“A sign for what?”
“That we are going to have a baby.”
For the first time in over four years, instead of arguing about Hashem’s existence, Alex just said, “Maybe.”
“Ok…so let’s try to return these. Can you go up to apartment…?” Lina looked at the address on one of the boxes. “Here it is. Apartment 5K, fifth floor. Let them know their delivery is here.”
Alex obeyed; in an instant, he was gone. But he returned faster than expected.
“Nu? What happened? Are they coming to pick it all up?”
“Nope! You won’t believe it, but there is no 5K in our building.”
“Ok. So, let’s try to find them by name.”
They both went down to the lobby and went through all the mailboxes to see if they could find the name, but nothing matched the name on the packages.
“We can call the company tomorrow and see if they have a phone number or another address on file.”
“Yeah, for sure!” Alex replied.
Over the next couple of weeks, Lina and Alex decided to give the fertility treatments another try.
“The doctor said we should try three IUIs, and if those fail, we will move on to IVF cycles.”
Alex was always supportive, but Lina told him that if the IUIs didn’t work, she wanted to take a huge break from it all. She was simply tired of going to these draining appointments, having hope and then being heartbroken all over again. But she prayed day and night; she didn’t stop praying, and she held on to the little hope she had left for a miracle. She couldn’t understand why women who do not want kids get pregnant with ease, or abort precious life. And the women who cry and pray and hope and urge for a child have a hard time.
What did make Lina joyful during this difficult time was that she noticed Alex was softening up to Judaism. He started saying kiddush on Shabbat, he stopped eating non-kosher food outside of the house, and he stopped arguing about the origins of Torah. Lina found his kiddush so beautiful because she saw that he was trying so hard. He tried to read it only in Hebrew. He read very slow and in a low voice, uncertain, unsure of himself, but every Friday night, he got through it. Kippah on his head and a glass of wine in his hand—this was how Lina had imagined it!
A couple of months later, Lina and Alex got the news that the second IUI had failed. Waiting to start the final treatment, Lina prayed harder than she had ever prayed in her entire life. She hoped that her heartfelt tears would reach the Source of blessings.
“I need your help, Alex,” Lina said, as they drove to the doctor’s office for her final treatment. She wasn’t sure how to ask, because she knew she would get the same answer of, ‘You know I don’t pray,’ but she had to try, because she felt that Alex’s prayers were greatly needed.
“When I’m at the office, can you please pray for us to have a baby? This is our last chance!”
“Yes, Lina! I will pray for us!”
Tears of joy filled her eyes; she couldn’t believe her ears. Alex actually said yes to prayer.
“You can just pray in your own words. Just ask Hashem to help us!”
“Ok. I will do that Lina, I will definitely do it.”
The two-week wait was unbearable. Lina decided to go and pray at the gravesite of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. As she prayed with a heart full of emotion, as she spoke to Hashem in ways she hadn’t before, she felt weird butterflies somewhere around—or even below—her stomach. She continued to pray until she had no more tears left. As she walked to her car, she put all hope in Hashem.
Lina buckled up her seatbelt, and was ready to take off toward home, when she got a phone call.
“Hi, Lina. This is the nurse from Dr. Guzmin’s office.”
“Hi!” She was surprised at how calm and relaxed she was.
“Well…” the nurse stopped, “I have news for you.”
A moment of silence, and then Lina heard these words:
“You are pregnant! Congratulations!”
Lina cried in a loud scream, as she noticed her other line was clicking. She looked at her phone—Alex was calling.
“Thank you,” Lina, managed to reply to the nurse and immediately switched over to Alex.
“Hey! How are you doing?”
But all Lina could do was sob loudly into the phone.
“Oh my goodness! Is everything ok?” Alex asked, alarmed.
This was really not how Lina had wanted to tell him. But how could she not tell him right now, right this moment?
“You’re…” Sob, sob, and many sobs later, she managed, “You’re going to be a father!”
“Miracles do happen—and prayers do work!” Alex replied, in happy shock.
Even after further investigation, Lina and Alex never did find the owners of the baby packages that had been delivered to their apartment…
enjoys learning about anything and everything. Spending time with her family is one of her favorite pastimes. Running a daycare keeps her motivated and busy, but she always finds time for an ice cream break! Rochel holds a degree in journalism and absolutely loves writing fiction and stories for children.