S uri knocked cautiously on the hospital door before walking inside. In her hand, she clutched a small, potted plant. Somehow, she wasn’t sure why, it had seemed more appropriate than bright, airy balloons.

“Aviva?” She felt almost as nervous as she had that day she’d stood in Aviva’s living room and broke the news that Goldfeder was suing.

She’s no stranger to children with disorders, Suri tried to tell herself. She works with them every day. Still, when it’s your own.… And, for the first time, Suri felt regret for the jealousy she’d been harboring just below the surface, a low-level undercurrent that had run through all her interactions with Aviva ever since she’d found out about the pregnancy.

“Suri! So sweet of you to visit! Come look at my gorgeous little tzaddik’l!”

Suri was caught by surprise as Aviva, wearing a sheitel and velvet robe, swooped down on her — shouldn’t she be in bed? — and kissed her on each cheek.

I needn’t have worried, Suri realized. Perfect Aviva Heyman’s reaction was, obviously… perfect.

Suri looked down at her hands, awkwardly balancing her plant. “Mazel tov,” she said. “I brought you a gift.” Her voice sounded unnaturally stiff. Could Aviva tell how uncomfortable she felt?

“Thanks so much! I love orchids!” Aviva made a production of moving the nightstand next to the window and positioning the flowerpot just so. “They need lots of sunlight.” Her own smile was bright and sunny, and she laughed off Suri’s protestations that a kimpeturin shouldn’t be moving furniture. “I feel great! More than great! After all, I have a sweet new baby. What can be better?”

Suri stared at her. Aviva was using her peppy, let’s-welcome-all-our-parents-to-the-therapy-clinic voice. “Um,” she tried, wondering if she dared broach the topic of the baby’s Down syndrome. But, she reasoned, with Aviva’s grand announcement to the world, she wasn’t exactly begging for secrecy. “How did it feel — I mean, did you have any idea, that the baby would have, you know, Down syndrome?”

Suri’s cheeks burned, but Aviva appeared unruffled. She sat down on her bed. “Yeah, we had some warning. Nothing definitive. But enough to give me time to prepare.” She glanced at the baby, lying peacefully in his bassinet. “I’ve been reading up on oral-motor therapy approaches. I never worked with newborns before. Fascinating stuff!”

Suri looked down at the baby. She reached out and stroked his cheek and gave a little smile at the way he began to suck in his sleep. It had been so long since she’d been around a newborn.

“How have your children taken the news?”

Aviva shrugged. Her oversized smile trembled slightly. “Well, they need some time to process it.” Her voice wavered ever so slightly at the word “process.“ It’s an adjustment, of course. It’ll be an adjustment for all of us. But they say a child with special needs brings such brachah into the home!” It was back again, that megawatt tzadeikes smile.

Suri turned away for a moment to hide her expression. She’d known Aviva for many years now, and she’d never seen her self-possession so obviously put on.

Just who was Aviva trying to fool? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 542)