Almost two years after my husband’s passing I got a surprising email from a woman with a familiar name. Although I had never met her, I knew of her existence, heard stories about her and even saw her photo together with my husband, as she was his first great love.
My husband and I met when we were 22 and 19 respectively, he was a first year student at the university and I was a soldier. Thus, that love had taken place when they even younger. But these were the days around the Yom Kippur War (1973) and young people were serious, anxious, and intense. I never doubted the depth of their feelings or the significance of their relationship.
Throughout the years my husband mentioned her but never expressed a wish to seek her out. Also her family name was a very common name in Israel, and it was would have been quite a challenege to track her down.
Thinking back I don’t remember ever feeling jealous of the love that my husband had for her. The two of us met six months after the war and a short while after they parted. I felt sorry for his plight, going through a war, combined with the grief over the loss of his love.
When my husband got ill, I had a sudden urge to let her know, but I didn’t mention it to him, and then suddenly he said that he was thinking of her.
After my husband died I remembered her again, but had no idea where to find her. Part of the magic of their love was that they met outside their ordinary life in time of war and did not have even a single friend in common.
Then came her email, she only wrote that she had known my husband before his university days, nothing else about their past. She added that she was very sorry, that she has just then found out. I wrote back telling her how much my husband loved her, and that we, his family, knew what she has meant to him. We arranged to speak and then to meet.
From the first time that we met we felt a bond; like me she is a widow who lost her husband to cancer. In other respects we are not alike, but we both loved the same man.
This month we commemorate 40 years to the Yom Kippur War; the men of my generation are still haunted by the trauma of this war. In retrospect I believe that for my husband the bitter memories of those turbulent times were somewhat alleviated by the sweetness of his first love.
And I got unexpected boon when this new/old friend entered into my life willing to share with me an unknown chapter of my husband’s past.