S uri glared at herself in the mirror as she gave a tug at her sheitel, which had somehow gone on lopsided. She had only 15 minutes until the senior social group began, and the women got nervous when she came late.

She’d been so tempted to cancel this month’s meeting, with all that was going on, but she knew how much it meant to the women, and with Pesach coming up, it would be a while until they met again.

As she got ready, her ever-present worries replayed themselves once again in her head. Ever since leaving Aviva’s house, Suri had felt vaguely disappointed in herself. Here Aviva had gotten all excited about this new legal angle, and had been ready and willing to use all her creative energies in pursuing it, while all Suri could do — she whose neck was actually on the line — was to give half-hearted assents or protests to some of Aviva’s wackier ideas. What was wrong with her?

During the short drive to the shul social hall, she asked herself why she had consulted Aviva in the first place. Had she really wanted ideas for playing amateur detective? If so, why had she found Aviva’s enthusiasm so off-putting?

She walked into the room, where she was greeted by the women, most of whom were already gathered. It took several moments to register the change in her inner state; the way her shoulders loosened, her neck muscles relaxed. As she took her seat in the circle, it hit her: everyone in the room was smiling at her, was treating her with the same warmth they always had. As if she weren’t a professional pariah.

They don’t know, that’s all, she told herself. But, somehow, as she looked around, the tension of the past month draining blessedly away, she had a feeling that, even were they to know, these ladies — with their good sense born of years of life experience — wouldn’t care at all.

Suri, we know you, she could almost hear Mrs. Goldberg saying.

Whatever mistake you made, it must have been for a good reason, Mrs. Sussman would chime in.

You have a heart of gold, Mrs. Levy would add, and all the women around the circle would nod fondly.

A lump rose to her throat and for a second she was tempted to actually reveal her sorry story to the beautiful women sitting around her. But, she realized, it wasn’t necessary. She had already gotten the answer she needed, just from being here.

She had never really intended to ask Aviva’s advice about how to go about digging for dirt on the Goldfeders. No, she’d wanted to ask whether she should tell the lawyer to drop that line altogether. Whether, just because the parents were out to destroy Suri’s reputation, she should turn it around on Dini.

It was what any sensible person would do, obviously. Certainly, her lawyer wouldn’t even understand the question. Aviva might not, either. But — drawing warmth from the expectant smiles around her as the ladies waited for her to begin — she knew that these women would. And she could even hear their answers.

Do what you think is right.

Be true to yourself.

What seems like such an urgent need right now won’t mean a thing years from now.

With a wide grin, and a feeling of peace and inner conviction she hadn’t felt in weeks — weeks? decades, actually! — she began the evening’s program. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 545)