“Chaya’s illness has nothing to do with you or the boys. It was sad and tragic, but nothing hereditary or genetic or contagious. Trust me”
“How do you know I can’t get it?” Rikki asked her father.
“Rikki, you’re 13 and healthy, baruch Hashem. Chaya was born like that. The likelihood of you contracting it is zero.”
“Are you sure?”
“But, last night, my legs were hurting. Is that one of the symptoms? You said Chaya’s legs don’t work.”
“Rikki, listen to me. Your legs are fine. You’re fine. Trust me.”
Mrs. Levy entered the living room, the phone cradled between her shoulder and ear. “Yes, thank you, Doctor Davis. I do understand. We’ll make appointments for the kids to see you, for next week.”
“Appointments for us?” Rikki said the instant her mother hung up the phone.
“For you and the boys.”
Rikki twisted her hands. “Why? What’s wrong? What is Dr. Davis going to check us for?”
“It’s just to get flu shots. Now that Chaya is coming home, we have to protect her from any viruses we can.”
“While you were on the phone,” Mr. Levy said, “Rikki was asking me about Chaya’s illness. She’s scared that she could get it.”
“Oh, sweetie, of course not, don’t worry about that for even a minute.”
“But how can you be sure? How can only one of your kids be so sick and the others are fine? Don’t we all have the same genes or something?”
Mrs. Levy reached for Rikki and crushed her to her heart. It felt safe enveloped in her mother’s arms. Rikki wished she could stay like that forever.
“Rikki, honey,” Mrs. Levy said into Rikki’s hair. “Chaya’s illness has nothing to do with you or the boys. It was sad and tragic, but nothing hereditary or genetic or contagious. Trust me.”
Those two words again.
Mrs. Levy released Rikki. “Okay?” She tilted Rikki’s head upward by her chin.
“I’m sure you have lots of questions. Are you ready to speak now?”
Everyone sat down, and Mr. Levy cleared his throat.
Rikki chose the chair that faced the couch where her parents sat. She didn’t want to miss any reactions or looks passed between them.
“Go ahead, Rikki. Ask us anything.”
“How sick is she?”
“The main issue is the problem with her heart,” her father said. “She had several surgeries and will probably need more as she continues to grow.”
Rikki envisioned a teenaged girl not much older than she, hooked to machines and lying in a hospital bed.
“Is she in pain all the time?”
“No.” Mrs. Levy shook her head. “Baruch Hashem. She’s not in pain. She’s a very happy girl. You’ll see when you meet her.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 786)