Sruly visits his mother and helps her accept the idea that rehab would help her.
* * *
After Sruly left, Hindy could only stare straight ahead, stunned. Of all the people who’d come to visit her that day, it was Sruly who had broken through and touched her heart. When had he grown so wise? And what was he saying about Tzippy helping him? Where was Tzippy, actually? She was usually in the front row of any family drama, and now she was conspicuously absent.
Sruly’s parting words, “Come back to us, Ima,” had been hard to hear. Where had she been? The year had been unusual, with her fall and the resulting pain. She’d become disenchanted with her work, which was a new development. She’d always loved it, and now it meant nothing to her. It all seemed so foolish now.
She was wondering about this rehab also. She didn’t even know what it was, and a part of her was glad about it. She had no reason to know from rehab and no reason to go either. Did she?
In a flash she picked up her cell phone and dialed.
“Hi Ma. It’s me.”
“Hindaleh, I was just on my way to you. I was packing up. Max, it’s Hindy. Pick up.”
“Ma? I love Tatty, but I need to speak to you privately. Is it okay?”
“Don’t worry, he’ll just say hello and hang up.”
“Hello mein shaineh kind, how are you feeling?” Max’s voice was warm and reassuring, pouring through her like honey.
“Baruch Hashem, better.”
“Okay, zei gezunt. See you soon.” He clicked off.
Lena returned to the line, her full attention focused on the conversation. “So, my dear daughter. What’s doing?”
“I don’t know. Everything is all messed up.” Her voice broke, and the dam was threatening to burst. “What’s rehab? Do you know?”
Her mother was quiet.
“Ma? You there?”
“I’m here. I know what rehab is. It’s where people go to recover from addiction.”
“Mommy, do I need rehab?” Hindy’s voice was so small that Lena could barely hear it, but she was intimately familiar with its timber. She’d heard it many times. “Mommy, did I do the wrong thing?” “Mommy, I spoke lashon hara.” “Mommy, I don’t know what to do now.” Since Hindy was young, as confident as she seemed on the outside, there was a deep pocket of insecurity behind her dazzling smile.
“I have one already picked out for you,” said Lena. “I did the research and I registered you — just in case.”
Hindy had never appreciated her mother as much as she did at this moment. “You did that for me?”
“Hindaleh, you are my daughter. What wouldn’t I do for you?”
“So you think I need to go.”
“Yes, I do.”
“But what about Asher? He’s dead set against it.”
“I am not worrying about what Asher thinks.”
“Mommy! He’s my husband!”
“Maybe so,” said Lena, cool and calm. “But you are my daughter.”
When Asher showed up the next day to discharge Hindy and take her home, he found her sitting on the edge of the bed, her bag packed, waiting.
“Ready to go?” he said, reaching for the suitcase handle.
“Yes and no,” said Hindy.
“What does that mean?” Asher was impatient but trying not to let it show. He was anxious to return to his routine. He was out of sorts and in no mood for riddles.
Hindy took a deep breath. In all their years of marriage, she had never openly defied Asher. It wasn’t to say that she didn’t occasionally spend more money than he expected her to, or buy something for one of the kids or grandkids that Asher didn’t think they needed, but generally she didn’t disagree with him. She felt like her next statement was more like a declaration of war.
“I’m ready to go, yes, but I’m going to the rehab. If you don’t want to take me yourself, my parents are waiting downstairs. I’m sorry, Asher. I know you’re against the idea, but I spent the whole night awake and thinking. I don’t believe I’m an addict, whatever that is, but something went wrong with me and the painkillers. My back pain disappeared a long time ago, but I kept taking the pills. I don’t understand why I did that, but I almost died. I need to find out what happened to me.”
She really didn’t know how he would respond, but his reaction still surprised her. “Your mother put you up to this, didn’t she.” He wasn’t shouting but he was close. “Is there nothing she doesn’t meddle into?” He knew this wasn’t true but he kept talking anyway, digging himself in deeper in a hole that might not be so easy to climb out of. “For the last time, you do not need rehab. I’m taking your bag down, and I’ll bring the car to the entrance. I expect you to be waiting for me when I get there. I am bringing you home, our home, where you belong.”
Hindy was shaking. She knew he would be angry, but she hadn’t expected this. The last thing she wanted to do was upset him. He’d been through enough. Still, he’d be more sorry if she came home and something like this happened again. She didn’t think it would, but she had never dreamed it could happen in the first place, so how could she judge?
When she had steadied herself, she went down the stairs and slipped into the back seat of her parents’ car. As Max checked the rearview mirror, he thought he saw Asher. He couldn’t be sure, though, so he put the car in gear and drove away.
To be continued . . .