"I don’t want her going through something like this. It hurts me too much”
Savta is placing the gooey walnut brownie pie in the center of the table while we sit around with our grandparents and uncles, when Ima breaks the silence. “I have something to tell you,” she says. Suddenly, it’s painfully quiet. The spoons cease banging against the fine china. Even the Chanukah flames seem to stop dancing.
And she begins. “Ima, Abba, Avi, Dani, it’s hard for me to say this. But, not always do we do what’s easy, only what’s right. I was at the doctor a few days ago and they found something. Something that needs to be removed. Something that’s... cancerous.” The air is choked. I can’t breathe. It hurts too much, anyway. Saba averts his gaze. Savta’s eyes tear. Uncle Avi clears his throat uncomfortably. And Uncle Dani… he slumps in his chair. Abba is first to break the silence. “It’s not a death sentence,” he assures everyone. “There’s actually a 90 percent survival rate. But... we’re in for a long haul.”
Uncle Dani’s chair scrapes against the parquet. Without as much as a backward glance, he slithers out of the room. Savta doesn’t even ask him to stay. He can’t face the facts; he’s never been too good at that. But even if Savta was letting him get away with it, I certainly wasn’t.
“Dani?” I knock softly.
There is a muffled sound on the other side of the door. “Get away!” he croaks.
“It’s only me, Dafna. Open up.”
The door creaks open.
“Can I come in?” I ask cautiously. He nods, not meeting my eyes. I sit perched on the raggedy bean bag with the stuffing poking out. “Dani, why’d you run away like that?” I pick at the fuzzy tufts jabbing out. “It’s my mother, not yours. And I didn’t turn on my heel like that when my mother told me. What’s going on?”
He’s quiet. Too quiet. He casually tousles his gelled hair. What is this, a new trend? His hair has never looked this unruly. And his pants, aren’t they a tad tight? He smooths a jet-black wisp between his fingers.
“Dafna, your mother, she’s my sister. And even though I’ve hardly ever lived with her in the same house, since she got married when I was maybe five, she’s still my sister. And I love her. I don’t want her going through something like this. It hurts me too much.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 787)
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