T

hough the performance had been on a Wednesday night, it wasn’t until Shabbos that Heshy remembered to ask Rina about it. It was fine, she’d decided. She understood, really. He was so busy with work all the time; on Thursday, he’d come home after she was already asleep, and today he’d rushed in a half hour before Shabbos.

Her daughters, at least, were interested. Rina had been almost embarrassed to face Huvy the next morning, wondering if she was resentful that Rina had made her come home to babysit, but if she was, she hid it well. Her face wore its usual look of placidity as she asked how the show went.

“Baruch Hashem, they all loved it,” Rina had answered, deciding not to add how many were in the “they.”

“Of course they did,” Huvy said, matter-of-factly. “Everyone always loves it.”

Rina had felt a sudden rush of fondness for this daughter of hers, who always helped out without protest and expressed such unwavering confidence in her mother. Rina reached out a hand to stroke Huvy’s cheek.

“You’re a good girl, Huvale. Thanks so much for coming home to babysit last night. I’m sorry you had to leave your friend’s house.”

Huvy’s cheek glowed hot under Rina’s hand. “It was fine, Mommy,” she mumbled.

She looked so beautiful when she smiled like that. With an actual sparkle in her eyes. Why didn’t she do so more often?

“Tell you what,” Rina continued, energetically. “Why don’t you invite this friend over here today, and to make it up, I’ll take the two of you over to the mall. You guys can get some Slurpees, buy some clothing. It’ll be fun!”

Instantly, Rina realized that she’d pressed too hard. The sparkle fled from Huvy’s eyes as she pulled away from Rina and muttered, “No, thanks. It’s fine. Miriam and I were just getting together for a school project — we’re not actually friends. Besides, I don’t even like the mall.”

Now, sitting around the Shabbos table, Rina gazed contemplatively at her eldest daughter, seated beside Atara. It was so hard to know what was going on inside Huvy’s mind. For example, all the time she spent at her father’s house — every other weekend, plus some Yamim Tovim. What was it like over there?

Rina often tried to picture what their home looked like, what their Shabbos looked like — Eliezer and Faigie, with their three kids. Faigie, Rina knew from her brief interactions with her over the years, was a sweet, passive type — just like Eliezer. She could just picture their family discussions, all about, “Maybe we should do this… I don’t know… What do you think…” Lots of sweet, wispy words, and never getting anything done. Just living their quiet, reclusive lives, striving to simply make enough money to live on, to get through life with as little worry and hustle and bustle as possible.

Huvy probably fit right in over there.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 594)