editorial, or
other contact:

126 Klingerman Road
Telford, PA 18969

Join DSM e-mail list
to receive free e-mailed
version of magazine

Subscribe to
DSM offline
(hard copy version)


ad rates

DreamSeeker Magazine Logo


Love Versus God

Her name was Anne, too. However, Anne Friedman along with her younger sister escaped the Nazi horror. But she lost every other member of her family. Anne made a life in America, married, raised four boys, and is now dying of liver cancer. I grew up next door to her. I believe that she was perhaps the only person who was always glad to see me. I went to see her yesterday.

I was twelve when my older sister killed herself in 1969. I realized then that our two families would be joined at the hip forever. I knew, when my parents returned from the hospital early in the morning, that Toby was dead. I heard the call to brother at college, the cries of utter anguish that at four a.m. would not be stopped by the walls of our house. I heard the dead silence, too.

My mother immediately took to her bed. Dad came into my bedroom, as he normally would on a school day, to wake me. I felt him sit on the bed, even though I was facing the wall and could not see him. He would usually take my foot and tickle me awake, but not today. I turned to face him, and saw someone else; a man suddenly taken dumb, unable to speak. He just looked at me for what seemed like hours rather than what were probably just seconds. He could not say the words. I think he would have sat on my bed forever just looking at me helplessly if I hadn’t said “Toby died, didn’t she.”

Dad was rustling the trash cans to the curb when I heard Mrs. Friedman yell from next door “Irving, why aren’t you at work? Are you okay?”

Dad never missed work. Looking out of my window I could see the saddest man in the world just look to her wearily and say, “Toby died.”

Within minutes Anne was inside our house, the very first one outside the family that day. She brought whatever light one could bring into a house of the deepest darkness. As Jewish tradition requires, she covered all of the mirrors and other reflecting surfaces in the house: Jews are to reflect on their souls, not their faces in these times. She made sure my younger sister and I were fed, as well as Dad.

And she went upstairs to talk to Dottie, my mother, who twenty-seven years before had given birth to her now lost daughter. Anne then proceeded to kickstart the practical things a family must do when one of us dies. She was with us the whole day, as people heard and gathered. And Anne Friedman held our hands, metaphorically, as she ran around our house, cleaning, cooking, and being the strength that we so sorely needed to somehow begin to steady ourselves.

January 17, 2009

Almost forty years later, this woman cannot leave me now.

When I walked into the sick room, I saw a frail old woman, whose faith in God allowed her to accept the sentence but still insist that she was not ready to die. Around the bed were her people. And a light that focused on a face in gentle repose. Anne was not bargaining. Her eyes were calmly watching God as he tip-toed around the room, wanting her for himself, waiting for his time but being pushed back by the life in Anne’s eyes and the love surrounding and protecting her.

God created love. Could it be  that he created a force so strong that even he had to stand back now? Had God created something more powerful than himself? It is rather simple. His children, through prayer, and Anne through her awesome strength and love of God’s gift of life, were now unwilling to give it back to him, just yet. Humans are the Lord’s finest achievement. And Anne and her protectors had, I think, a question for God. Why take from us one of your greatest creations, now, when we need her so much more than you?

I sat by her bed, kissed her, and said “I’m still, everyday, praying for a miracle.”

We held hands. Her grip was strong. Indeed she squeezed so tightly that I made a face and made her smile. A weak smile is so much more seductive than a toothy one.

Was Anne saying to God, “Yes, I know,” but still fighting, having a conversation with the divinity? As much as she wanted to be in the arms of her mother and father and the scores lost for over six decades, she wanted more time with us. Anne always heeded God. She also needed him to come back later.

Everyone has their “time” we suppose. But sometimes it is the wrong time. God is our timekeeper. But as he silently moved about Anne’s room, perhaps it occurred to him that the force of love that he had made and that was now protecting Anne, was more powerful than his timetable. For a moment I thought I saw God fingering his watch fob and stroking his chin, considering whether Anne’s death or her life would now be his gift to her.

We held hands, stroked each other for about half an hour yesterday. She would open her eyes and smile. Joey! Oh, Joey. We both smiled and laughed a little. There were many in the house who wanted my chair, but I was not giving it up so easily. God was in the house and could snatch her away at any moment. Besides, she had my hand in her life grip. So strong, I couldn’t release her yet.

But eventually I did. I kissed her. I said, “So long, but not goodbye.” And another came to sit by her and take her hand.

Several times a day now, I have business with God. I refuse to believe he does not hear me. I know he hears me. I know he listens. When we, the lovers of Anne Friedman, pray for her life, we must add a codicil. The cancer inside is now killing her. So we add to our prayer for her life, an easy passage, a short trip back to her happiest place . . . before Hitler, before the whole world looked to God and could not find him.

We do want it both ways. We want a miracle too; for God to remove the cancer and return her to us, for a while, the healthy, happy old lady, who was entering old age free of the silliness, doubt, and convention of youth. A 79-year-old woman who still gave lectures on the Holocaust, who bathed in the love of her family, and never shook her fist at God, though he once seemed lost to her. She would love God from her last breath here to her first breath there.

So we wait. And pray. Pray with the fervor of God’s six-day creation. Of course Anne will die. Perhaps she has died while I write these words. What a terrible thing it would be to live forever and never move ahead to the place of simple peace and love. The miracle we are asking for is a selfish one. In a world where many point to God and ask, “Who are you,” we ask for a few more years of the loving-kindness of Anne Friedman, who never doubted who he is.

January 30, 2009

Anne died this morning at 3:30. It seems our prayers, our pleas, our entreaties to God were ignored. But God doesn’t ignore prayer, so that wasn’t it. God listens, perhaps deliberates, perhaps not, but we find that, after all, God does not dither. Anne said that she accepted this, but was not ready. We were not ready. But God was ready to take Anne back. And perhaps her death was God’s most perfect act of love for Anne Friedman.

—Joe Postove, Norfolk, Virginia, is a former talkshow host. He has been previously published in DreamSeeker Magazine (2005). His most important influence in his life and work has been his mother.


Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional