cupped my hands around my coffee mug and watched Linda. A mother’s pride must feel something like this.

I hired her just over two weeks ago — four hours a day, two days a week — and it’s been wonderful. She’s just so good and efficient, and she’s taking my baby and making her beautiful. I inhaled, the fresh coffee grounds settling my buzzing brain.

It’s a nice place, this Hess Brooklyn shared space, metal and wood accents, a mix of modern and homey. The complimentary snacks weren’t kosher, but the coffee was fine. I was drinking too much of it.

“You want me to go ahead with the Cr?me pitch to Allure?” Linda looked up from her laptop to consult with me.

“Sure.” I didn’t even have to double-check. Linda knows what she’s doing. “Just make a list of what you plan on doing so I don’t have to hover, and I’ll focus on my other accounts.”

“Already e-mailed you a list.” Linda smiled at me.

Thank You, Hashem, for reminding me that Linda exists and for giving me the skill to persuade her to come out of retirement. I seated myself at my desk and looked at my work for the day: Review pitch responses, send out more pitches, consult with clients on new developments, pitch at least two new clients.

There had been thrill and anxiety each day since I started the agency; today was just thrill. Ari had me second-guessing myself about hiring someone who’s not Jewish, but this was obviously the right decision, I’m breathing, real breathing, since Linda’s arrival.

“Take care, hatzlachah!” I waved off a new gemach client. I felt sophisticated using Ari’s new system on someone who never knew the old one — like look how cool this gemach is, better than a store.

I went back inside, organized the necklaces (the woman had tried on about 20 before coming back to the first she tried on), then turned off lights. I checked the time — seven. I should really say hi to Ma. Haven’t seen her in ages, we barely talk, just neutral goings-on on the family group chat, like “Tante Leiba’s birthday today” or “Cute!” commenting on news and pics of nieces and nephews.

I walked up to the first floor, knocked, then jiggled the door handle. It was open and I entered the kitchen. The house smelled the same, like Chanel No 5 mixed with sautéed onions.


“In the den.”

I walked to the back room where I found her sitting in her recliner with a book and cup of coffee.

“Coffee?” she offered.

“No, thanks.” I sat myself in the floral print armchair across from her.

“To what do I owe this honor?”

I flushed. Whatever issues I have with my mother, I was definitely negligent in our relationship.

“Haven’t seen you in a while, missed you.” My throat caught.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 637)