Pain Relief Chapter 26


Hindy sleeps through candle-lighting. Tzippy finally is able to talk to her father about the changes that she sees happening to Ima. He reassures her that they will find out what is wrong.

*   *   *

Hindy had feigned sleep so that her parents would go back downstairs for the Shabbos meal, but they’d sat there a good long time. When they finally shut the door behind them, she’d immediately sprung from the bed to the bathroom and  medicine cabinet to find more pills. She vaguely remembered, earlier that awful day, reminding herself over and over that there were none left and that she needed to do something about it, but the day had gotten away from her. The Tylenol prescription was finished, and the only way she’d be able to get more was to find another doctor, but she needed it — now. Just one or two pills would take the edge off and help her to think more clearly, and sleep better too. She’d become herself again. She found nothing in the medicine cabinet so started to look through the drawers and paraphernalia, hoping to find one or more  dropped or forgotten pill. Although she was fine and safe in her home, she felt so tense. If she could only get the pills she craved, everything would be fine. But what could she do? It was Shabbos.

Distraught, she sat down on the edge of her bed, her feet barely grazing the soft grey carpet. She’d spent days searching for just the right shade. It had been so clear in her mind that when she finally found it she recognized it instantly. Her mother had once owned an elegant grey jacket, smooth suede with faux grey fur surrounding the a long, flowing collar. It was the most beautiful thing Hindy had ever seen, and when it was stolen from a coat room at a chasunah, while her mother had taken it calmly, Hindy had cried. Years after the actual jacket was long gone, its color remained in her mind, and when the time came to decorate her own home, she’d saved the color like it was a precious heirloom. She’d designed the rest of the room around the color of the carpet, and she was still as struck by the color as she’d been all those years ago.

But right now it just looked dingy and old, and Hindy was scared. Every time the awful picture of Miriam, weeping by the side of the road, rose up in her mind she wanted to weep with her. She lay back and closed her eyes, forcing all thoughts out of her mind and waited for sleep.

But that night, sleep did not come. She tossed about so loudly she’d woken Asher twice. She couldn’t get comfortable, tossing and turning incessantly. Without the medication, her legs started cramping and her stomach clutched. She began to sweat. Asher kept asking if she was okay and she kept saying she was fine when they both knew it wasn’t true. Wide awake, she heard his Shabbos alarm go off at 6:30, heard him groan as he tried to pull himself up out of bed. She could feel him looking over at her but she sealed her eyes tightly and waited until he left.

She remembered that there might be some pills in her handbag. Was there muktzah in there? The same thoughts dashed around in her head like little mice, chasing each other around in a dizzying circle: I must get more pills. It’s Shabbos. What do I need it for? I feel fine. No, I feel awful. I must get more pills. There was no “off” button; the thoughts were spiraling on endless repeat, and only when she roused herself and got up did they finally stop.

There was still time before she had to go down to the seudah. She put on her Shabbos robe and her tichel;  her earrings and necklace and wedding rings. She looked for her siddur, but it wasn’t in its usual place. Her stomach plunged again a little, a thin thread of fear rippling through her that something was just not right, and whatever it was she was unable to fix it. Time was falling through little holes in her memory. She couldn’t account for large chunks of time, with no idea where they’d gone.

“Ima!” Tzippy’s voice snaked its way up the staircase and into her room.

“Ima! Are you coming? Abba’s home from shul!” Tzippy’s voice was growing louder and more insistent. Suddenly Hindy was frightened, ashamed to face everyone downstairs after yesterday’s fiasco. They would all be looking at her and judging her, pointing their fingers and saying that Miriam’s accident was her fault, even though it wasn’t. It would not be a good idea to sit at the Shabbos table today. Wouldn’t it be much safer to stay up in her room until the seudah was finished?

She could hear Tzippy’s footsteps pounding up the staircase and that strange fear overtook her. It’s only Tzippy! she chided herself. What are you so afraid of? She knew it made no sense, but she couldn’t snap out of it, and just seconds before Tzippy threw open the door Hindy threw herself back into bed, with all her Shabbos finery. She wanted to pull the covers over her head and hold her breath like a small child hiding.

“Ima?” Hindy, stop it. You can’t do that. You’ll scare her. She’s your child.

“Ima? Are you all right?”

“Better, but not better yet.”

“We’re making Kiddush now.” Hindy didn’t answer.

“Ima? Aren’t you coming?”

“I just need a little more time to get back to myself. Tell Abba to start without me and I’ll be down soon.”

To be continued . . .