Rikki looked at the clock on the nightstand. “Ugh!” It was three a.m. but her eyes were wide open. She was sure she’d never sleep again. How could she after the bombshell that was dropped on her tonight? A meteor landing in the yard would have been easier to believe.
Rikki threw back the blanket and swung her legs over the side of the bed. There was no use trying to sleep. Ignoring her slippers, she walked to the door and peeked out into the hallway. All was still. Not a trace of light, nor the sound of whispers. Maybe it was better this way. Who knows?
Rikki strode up and down her room, her hands clasped behind her back. She had known something major was going on, but this was more than major. She wasn’t sure there was a word to adequately describe this. She clenched her fists. Just a few hours ago, she was Rikki Levy. Rikki Dee, to her friends — firstborn and only girl.
A cold prickly feeling spread through her body. She rushed back to bed and climbed under the covers, hugging her knees to her chest. Her head lowered until her chin rested on her knees. She was still Rikki, but she wasn’t the oldest, or only, daughter. She had an older sister, Chaya. A sister she had never known about. A sister her parents hadn’t ever mentioned. A sister that had been given away at birth.
Her mother’s tears earlier that night had left her own eyes tearing. The revelation, though, had left her numb.
“Are you okay, Rikki?” her father had asked.
Rikki couldn’t answer. How could she? She had just found out that a huge chunk of her life was a lie.
“I’m sorry,” Mrs. Levy said. “Maybe we should have done things differently. Maybe we should have kept her.”
“No, Rena,” Mr. Levy said. “We can’t second-guess ourselves. We did what the doctors advised us to do. There was no alternative at the time.”
“I know, but…” Her mother’s voice trailed off.
“It was the right decision.” Her father’s voice was soft, but firm.
Rikki listened to the exchange, unsure who was right. It must have been agonizing for a young couple married only a year to face the challenge of raising a physically and mentally sick child.
“They told you to give her away?” Rikki asked.
“Yes. She needed round the clock care. Care we couldn’t give her.”
“I guess I understand,” Rikki said. “You did what was best for her.”
Her mother had reached for her hand. “It wasn’t easy to give our baby away.”
Rikki’s throat had tightened.
“It was the worst day of our lives. We had a baby, and she was gone.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 781)
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