"Mom, what’s up with Aunt Debbie?”

We are giving the rabbits their weekly salon session.

Mom’s got Pearl under her care and she’s brushing her long white fur carefully. “Naomi, you gotta give people their time.”

“Humph,” I say, Pinky’s brush between my teeth.

Pinky’s wriggling for all he’s worth, he gets ticklish sometimes, and then he’s not a fun bunny to groom.

But we’ve got to give them their weekly grooming. Rabbits are finicky groomers and lick themselves clean all the time like cats, and they can get hairballs if they ingest too much hair. Brushing their fur and removing old and matted hair helps our flappy-eared friends stay healthy.

“Ah, look at her.” Mom puts Pearl down and beams. “She’s a regular beaut.”

“That she is,” I say, stroking her lustrous fur. She positively gleams, she’s not called Pearl for nothing.

I’m still working on Pinky. “I keep expecting her car to drive up any minute.”

“Whose?” Mom asks.

I snort lightly. “Oh, Mom, you know whose.”

She shakes her head a little and talks quietly, as if to herself, “When you’ve been in the same place for so long, it’s hard to change, even if you know it’s not the best place to be. It’s safe, predictable. And that’s a lot.”

A sinking feeling in my stomach.

“You don’t mean…”

“I don’t mean anything. Yet. I just want you to calm down, to give this time. To give her time.” And quieter, “To appreciate that decisions are difficult.”

I rub Pinky’s back over and over. I sense that Mom’s thinking of something else, and it’s surely writ large in her eyes. Her decision to leave Dad. I dare not look up to see.

“I think I do, Mom,” I say, and I give Pinky a long, long brushing.

Later I have a crazy idea.

I’ve got to head to the Early Years for my weekly shift with Ushi. And I’m thinking of taking along company. Not any old company, mind you, I’m thinking of a girl in a chair.

Leeba’s mom called the other day. She says we should come over now that Leeba is home from the hospital. Take her out a bit, the park, side streets, never the avenue, of course.

But how about the Early Years… To see the yummy little people who are hampered too. Some by chairs and braces on their feet, some by simple minds and rigid limbs.

Would she see the neshamos inside, though? Or would it just make her depressed?

There’s only one way to find out.

I walk over to her house, ambivalent.

What are you doing?

She said she wanted to come.

Yeah, ’cuz you said you need her help.

How can she help anyhow?

I walk up the front path to the house I haven’t visited in six months. When did the door go eggshell blue? Really, Leeba’s mom is more no-nonsense than that. A fine shade of brown is more like her. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 695)