Hindy meets her parents’ neighbors on the grounds, and learns from them that her father is not well. Asher tries to explain.
* * *
It took a while for Asher to explain what had happened to Max. He kept having to stop so that Hindy could weep, wipe her tears, and moan, “How could I have been so selfish?” over and over again.
“It wasn’t your fault Hindy. When you are so involved in something as you were, it’s hard to see how it will affect other people.”
“Losing Miriam wasn’t enough?” her voice cracked. “Now my father, too? I need to check out now. I can’t wait even another minute.”
Asher looked around as though waiting for someone to appear and help Hindy see reason. “I know you want to, but you’re doing so well. It would be a shame to have to start all over again.”
“Oh, so now you want me to stay after you made such a big fuss? If you would have just taken me yourself maybe none of this would have happened in the first place!”
She stood up and stormed back to the rehab, determined to go home to her father. In all her years, she didn’t recall ever seeing him take even a nap during the day. He went to bed early, and got up to daven at the early Shacharis minyan every single day. Had the pain he felt over her decline caused him to take to his bed for the first time in his life?
She continued to march down the hallway until she got to Dr. Bachman’s office, but recalling the last time she’d barged in unannounced, she caught herself and knocked — not nearly as loudly as her heart was telling her to.
Dr. Bachman was in with a patient, but assured her she’d be called when he was available. She wondered if she could go around him, but there was no one here with greater authority.
Asher had followed her back into the unit and, seeing her stranded out in the hallway, led her gently to the cafeteria. He bought two lattes from the vending machine.
“Tell me again what happened,” said Hindy.
Long past worrying about keeping secrets, Asher repeated what he knew, that after dropping off the food for her he’d returned home and taken to his bed.
“But he goes to daven, right?”
“According to your mother, yes, he does, every day.”
“Oy, Tatty! Oy, Mommy!” A fresh wave of tears overtook her.
Asher shook his head sadly. “I have to admit it’s the first time I’ve ever seen your mother in such a state.”
“I can’t even describe to you how this feels,” said Hindy. “I’m so ashamed.”
“I’m so sorry, Hindy. I’m sure you didn’t mean for all of this to happen.”
“How could I have known?” Just then Dr. Bachman walked by and Asher raised a hand to catch his attention.
Dr. Bachman approached them and Hindy stood up, with an air of great urgency. However, the doctor remained impassive. “We just finished a session forty minutes ago,” he said. “What happened between then and now?”
“I need to go home,” Hindy said simply.
Asher interrupted, trying to explain, and Dr. Bachman nodded his head. “I have some time before my next appointment. We can squeeze in some more time.”
Back in Dr. Bachman’s familiar office, they ran through the story again. Asher had not expected the doctor to be sympathetic, but he was after all. He nodded his head as he tried to follow along the story pieced together by Hindy and Asher.
“Did I do this?” Hindy wept.
“Not intentionally,” said Dr. Bachman. “Your father got caught in the crossfire. It happens. The most sensitive members of the family can be hit the hardest. You couldn’t have known what would happen, but on the other hand, your actions did play a role as the catalyst.”
“I don’t want to be analyzed now!” she said. “I want to leave.”
Dr. Bachman leaned forward, forming a little triangle with his hands. “I’ll tell you what,” he began. “How about a one-day pass? You can leave first thing tomorrow morning and spend the day with your parents. See how it goes. It really would be a shame to undo all the progress you’ve made and have to start all over again somewhere else down the line.”
“I can assure you it won’t happen again,” Hindy insisted.
“It’s too soon to say that, Mrs. Fishman,” Dr. Bachman replied.
He scribbled a note on his letterhead and gave it to Hindy. “Give this note directly to Ahsha and she’ll sign you out in the morning.” The doctor sent an email to Ahsha telling her what to expect. “Mr. Fishman, can you pick up your wife at seven a.m.? ”
Asher had to stifle a groan — he was missing so much work he wondered if he’d have a job after all of this was over — and then, of course, agreed.
“It’s settled then. You can call your mother tonight and let her know you’re coming,” said Dr. Bachman.
“I’ll call,” Asher volunteered.
“No,” Dr. Bachman interrupted. “This is your wife’s task. She’ll make the call.”
Hindy’s heart was pounding as she clutched the phone code in her sweaty palm. She dialed and waited, longing to hear her mother’s voice on the other end of the line. Never in their lives had they gone so long without speaking to each other.
When she finally answered, Lena’s voice was barely more than a whisper.
“Ach, Hindaleh,” she said. “What have I done?”
“What do you mean?” said Hindy. “Is Tatty all right? It was all my fault.”
“You should come home,” she said. “I think I made a big mistake.”