| Double Take |

Family First

Aryeh: If you really put family first, you’d be willing to accommodate our request.

Ma: If you can’t put your issue aside for three days, then you don’t understand how important family is.

Aryeh

“The longer we push it off,” Miriam said, “the worse it’s going to be.”

I shrugged. “Why rush? You never know what might happen.”

She raised her eyebrows. “What might happen?”

I ticked off the possibilities on my fingers. “They’ll decide to cancel the whole thing. The kids will get the flu and need to be quarantined. We’ll win ten free tickets to Israel for exactly that week.”

“You forgot the UFOs that might come at twilight to spirit us all away.”

“Exactly. See? Lots of things might happen.”

Miriam scrolled through her phone. “I’m just looking at all these texts. Dina: Please send any food preferences or allergy info so we can confirm menu. Dina: Please let us know how many beds and cribs you need. Rafi: Am arranging drivers from airport, whoever is flying please send flight details.” She looked up. “I really think the sooner we tell them, the better.”

“Fine.” I winked. “Go right ahead and tell them.”

She dropped her phone as if it burned her. “Ha, very funny. He’s your brother. You tell him.”

“She’s your sister-in-law. You talk to her a hundred times a day. You tell her.”

Miriam shook her head. “Not anymore.” She looked at me, all the teasing gone from her voice. “Ever since we got back from last year’s reunion Shabbos, I’ve been talking to her less and less. Now I never talk to her. I’m afraid to answer when she calls, what am I going to say? Anyway, she stopped calling. We really need to tell them,” Miriam repeated, “because I’m sure Dina knows by now that something is up, and the longer we wait the more hurtful it’s going to be.”

She was right.

“You tell him,” Miriam said.

I slumped down into a chair. “What should I tell him?”

“The truth,” she said. “We aren’t coming to the reunion weekend this year.”

The annual reunion weekend had been born at Shuly’s Shabbos sheva brachos. Shuly is my youngest sister, the last to get married. Her Shabbos sheva brachos had been held in the shul my parents had davened in for 40 years; all us siblings had stayed at neighbors, childhood friends. It was the tail end of fall, and when Shabbos was over, we gathered for Havdalah on the deck with fireflies winking around us. Everyone had said how nice it was to all be together again and a good thing for simchahs, otherwise we would never see each other.

There was a sudden lull in the conversation, and I think we all realized it at once.

Rafi had said it aloud. “This is the last wedding. Who knows when we’ll all be together again?” Ma’s face fell.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 753)

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