A vrumi was a “free spirit.” That was his explanation to me. He “had to have his space.” Which would have been fine, except for the inconvenient fact that he was married and the father of a wailing six-month-old baby.

“If you were single, you could run off to Tzfas for two days without telling anybody!” I wept, when he came home from his little outing after I’d spent a sleepless night with little Moishy.

Avrumi didn’t have any good answers for me. He stood there, looking pale and a bit ashamed, but he gave no assurances about the future. And soon he was off again, to the kivrei tzaddikim in the north, or hiking in the Negev, and one time he even popped over to Uman. It was all on the spur of the moment, whatever struck his fancy.

The more escapades he went off on, the more I realized how incapable he was of keeping a commitment to one place, one home, and one young mother, who by this time had two babies.

“You got married! You signed a kesubah!” I reminded him tearfully for the thousandth time. He assured me that he’d made a lot of money on his last trip up north. He and his friends had gone up there with a carload of…

“I’m not interested,” I told him. “I don’t care what you were doing up there. You got married, you have a family!” Sitting and learning wasn’t even on my list of complaints anymore. Those days were over.

“Maybe it was a mistake,” he said. For a minute I felt hopeful; he was admitting that he was wrong to leave me in the lurch. No, I realized. That wasn’t what he meant. He meant that it had been a mistake to get married.

I was furious.

To this day, I can’t understand him. I know that in a certain sense he was still a child, chained to a life that was too much for him to handle. I know he wasn’t ready in any way to be a husband or a parent. I know he was “a bird that desperately needed to fly, locked up in a cage from the moment he was born” — as he sometimes expressed it to me in rare moments of honesty — and I know he truly managed to succeed in yeshivah. But the moment he was out of there, he wanted to try out his wings.

I know all that, but still, I think a person has to be accountable for his actions. You got married, you have children — take some responsibility for your family. It may be hard, but that’s not an excuse to leave your wife a living widow and your children virtual orphans.

But Avrumi didn’t see it that way. To him, I was both the jailer and the jail. I was still a child myself, and I had two babies, and I needed a husband so badly. Someone who would come home at a regular time every evening, who would be a father to my children, someone to talk with. But I was the last person he wanted to talk to. Whenever he got that claustrophobic feeling again — “there’s no air to breathe in this house” as he put it — he would always manage to find a friend who was organizing a little getaway in the north, or in the south, or in Nahariya, and off he’d go. Without telling me. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 681)