Y ael had the door open before her mother knocked. It wasn’t so often that her parents took time from their packed schedules to make the trip out to her house. But Simi’s second birthday party was a good enough excuse and her whole family had come for the occasion.

“Yael! You look great! Is that a new sheitel?” Her mother gave her a hug then walked inside.

One by one each of her family members followed and she couldn’t help but notice that they all made the same eye movement as they came in a quick ocular dance that took in the elaborately decorated foyer and living room and flashed the same wondering look: Does she really live here? It happened without fail every time they came.

Yael patted her sheitel self-consciously. “Uh yeah it is. A Pesach gift from my mother-in-law.”

Her mother hadn’t bought herself a new sheitel since Yael’s wedding. Eyes swiveling to the Jerens already ensconced in the living room her mother turned back to Yael lowered her voice confidentially. “So how was the bris? Did you manage to speak to them?”

Her mother had suggested during their long phone conversation a few days ago that Aviva’s bris would be the perfect nonprofessional setting to try to patch things up.

“You mean apologize?” she’d asked on the phone.

“To reveal that you spoke lashon hara? That’s a halachic sh’eilah. Better to discuss it with Tatty.” She’d paused and then asked with her unerring perception “But that’s not your real question is it?”

That’s when Yael had started sobbing like a little girl. It’s so completely not me to spread such vicious rumors to take revenge like that! I feel like I’ve become someone else these past few months and whoever she is I really don’t like her…”

A long conversation had followed and somewhere along the way they veered off into the territory of values and money about her priorities as a wife and the vast cultural divide between her and her in-laws.

At the end Yael had said sniffling “You know what Mommy? I feel like we should have had this conversation years ago before I got married.”

Her mother had been silent for a moment and then she’d said “Yes we should have. I don’t think I realized how much of an adjustment it would be for you. But that’s no excuse. I should have realized and I should have guided you then instead of leaving you to struggle on your own for so long.”

Now in response to her mother’s question she replied in a low voice “I went to the bris and I sat next to Suri. It was awkward really awkward but I forced myself and once we got past the weird beginning we started chatting almost normally. Suri and I had always gotten along ” she added.

“And Aviva? I’m sure she was preoccupied of course.”

Yael raked a hand through her new sheitel uncomfortably. “Aviva wasn’t there.”

“Wasn’t there?”

Yael shrugged. “She was there for the bris and then just as it was finishing she uh scooted out really fast. No one saw her after that." (Excerpted from Family First Issue 547)