Where You Go, I Will Go
A Modern Retelling of the first chapter of Ruth
Dark clouds hung forbiddingly over the dismal scene, the sun hiding itself from the heartbreaking sight at the graveyard. A woman, whose hair had not yet grayed, but yet was old enough to have grown children herself, knelt in front of her husband’s grave, her face in her hands as she wept bitterly for her loss. Her family left Israel for America so that they could have a fresh start, a place to raise their boys away from the turmoil of the Middle East, and instead she had lost her dearest love in a country far from home.
This land still felt so foreign and strange to her. She didn’t know how she would be able to live in a country that was not her home, but she knew she must. Both of her sons were engaged after all, and to American women who would not be willing to give up their safe houses just to provide their mother-in-law relief from the culture shock.
She jumped, the feather light touch of a hand on her shoulder startling her.
“Parvin?” Her soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s voice said softly, “We should go inside now. It’s starting to rain.”
Parvin looked up in surprise, only now noticing the icy chill that had crept into the air as the misty rain had begun to fall. She heard the sharp snap of an opening umbrella and the area around her darkened even further as Kate wrapped a warm arm around her shoulders, holding the umbrella above their heads. Now the rain began in earnest and the two women hurried inside.
Ten Years Later
The sharp scent of fresh Italian filled the modest kitchen and living room, the television droning on with the latest news in the background.
“…more Israelis living abroad are making their way back home, new immigration statistics show. But the immigration data may be more indicative of America’s economic woes than of Israel’s growing attractiveness…” The anchor was saying before the ringing doorbell stole Kate’s attention.
“Coming!” She called as she wiped her hands off on a damp towel, swiftly removing the plain apron protecting her neat floral dress from the red spaghetti sauce she had been fixing. With only a brief pause to smooth her hair in front of the hall mirror, Kate hurried to the front door to let her guests in.
Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law stood bundled up against the cold of January in New York City. A chilly wind seemed determined to remind them of why the townhouse looked so inviting, the house warmed by the fires on the stove and in the small fireplace, and Kate quickly ushered them in.
“Sarah, Parvin!” Kate exclaimed happily, taking their coats and scarves. “You got here just in time. Dinner’s almost ready and Matt called about thirty minutes ago. He said Keth’s meeting was finally over and they were on their way home, so they shouldn’t be too much longer.”
Sarah sniffed the air, peering at the bubbling pots on the stove top. “Italian?” She queried with a wry smile. “You always make Italian when it’s your turn to cook. Is that all you know how to make?”
Frowning slightly, Kate replied, sounding a little hurt, “I thought you liked my Italian.”
Parvin quickly intervened. “Kate dear, everyone likes your Italian. Sarah was only teasing.”
Sarah opened her mouth to argue otherwise when Kate’s phone rang, sending her scurrying into the kitchen to answer it.
“Hello?” Kate said cheerfully, not recognizing the number.
“Is this Kate Morrison?” An unfamiliar man asked.
“It is.” She replied curtly. “May I ask who’s calling?”
“I’m Officer Dixon. I’m sorry ma’am, but your husband and his brother were in an accident.”
Two Months Later
The three women sat around the table silently, their actions an unpleasant parody of happier meals spent together with the two men whose places now sat empty.
Parvin broke the painful silence with an even more painful sentence. “I’ve decided to move back to Israel.”
Kate jerked her head up to stare at her mother-in-law, shocked. “You’re leaving?”
Nodding, she said seriously, “I’ve made up my mind. I cannot support myself here in this country, and after all these years, I still do not understand it. It’s time I returned to my own country –there is nothing left to keep me here.”
“But you have us!” Sarah exclaimed.
Parvin smiled. “I am certainly grateful for the love you girls have shown me over the years, but if I were to stay, I would only be a burden. I’m ready to go home.”
“Then let us come with you!” Sarah said determinedly.
Kate nodded her agreement. “Parvin, you know that I love you as I loved my own parents. You and Sarah are the only family I have left. Please let us come with you.”
Parvin only shook her head. “I could not allow it. I am an old woman who has nothing left but to return to her home. You two are young –you still have a future to look forward to. I will not let you throw that away to blindly follow me.”
“Then at least let us help you how we can.” Sarah pleaded. “We can help you pack or sell your house or anything else you need.”
A slight smile tugged at the corners of Parvin’s mouth as she replied, “I would appreciate all the help I can get.”
Three Months Later
The day of Parvin’s departure dawned crisp and clear, the summer sun quickly burning off any early morning fog. Kate arrived at Parvin’s apartment bright and early, having volunteered to drive her to the airport.
“What am I going to do without you two girls?” Parvin asked with a chuckle as Kate took the suitcase she was struggling to pull down the steps, and quickly loaded it into the back of the van. As she looked at the car however, she realized that something was different. “Kate, whose car is this? You have a van.”
Kate smiled, a twinkling gleam in her eyes. “It’s a rental actually. I sold my car yesterday. The contract for my house is finalized too –the couple should be moving in by the time we reach Israel.”
“Kate, dear, I was only kidding a moment ago when I asked what I would do without you. I am perfectly capable of living by myself; I don’t need you to give up everything to take care of me.” Parvin told her.
“Parvin, I told you before that you and Sarah are my only family.” The younger woman began, turning to look her mother-in-law squarely in the eye. “I love Sarah dearly, but you’re the one I don’t think I can live without. These past ten years, you are the one who has always been there for me as my whole world seemed to fall apart. When my parents died, you were the one who held me as I sobbed and wondered how such a thing could happen to me. You gave me hope that I would see them again, hope I hadn’t had since I turned my back on God. You have been my solid rock since Matt died, and now my mind is made up. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay.”
With a sigh, Parvin asked, “There is nothing I can say that will change your mind?”
Kate shook her head.
“Then how can I be upset?” She asked, joyful tears springing to her eyes. A wide smile lit up her face, and she opened her arms up to her daughter-in-law. “I have been blessed by you more than I deserve.”
Kate stepped into the hug, holding Parvin tight. Finally she gently pulled away, saying, “We had better get going. We don’t want to miss our plane.”