| Teen Diary Serial |

The Girl That Was: Chapter 8   

I wished I could make Yom Tov feel a little more yontifdig. But I couldn’t get into the right mood


Tenth grade was over. Somehow, I made it through the year with decent grades. Now I was sitting on my bed trying to get myself to pack for camp. It was hard to believe that just a year ago, as far as we knew, my mother was healthy. A year ago as I packed for camp, she came in to help me and we ended up giggling like crazy together. A year ago... It seemed like a different lifetime.

I cried so much. Many times I was sure that my tear ducts had finally dried up. But each Yom Tov that came left me sobbing uncontrollably. When Yehudah lit those Chanukah candles, I couldn’t believe Mommy wouldn’t be sitting by the menorah for the next half hour, davening her heart out. It was hard to believe that everyone seemed so happy when Adar rolled around. Didn’t they know that life had no more joy? And Pesach was one epic disaster. Baila tried making Pesach with her three little kids. She was stressed out. I tried to help as much as I could but it was never enough for her. I couldn’t believe that we ended up yelling at each other. As Pesach neared, her mother convinced her that she needed a break and they should go there for Pesach. So they did. That left Simcha, Chaim, and me to kind of figure it out.

Avrumie and his family moved in. And we made it work. But I missed Mommy so much. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt bad. I wished I could make Yom Tov feel a little more yontifdig. But I couldn’t get into the right mood.

Then I started feeling concerned about Chaim. He just wasn’t himself.

I tried to talk to him to show him that I was there for him but he didn’t seem to be too interested in me. Yehudah tried to help him too. But they always ended up fighting. Chaim kept on reminding Yehudah that he wasn’t his mother or father. Whenever Chaim was home, I tried to be home too so that I could be a buffer in case any fighting started. I was a little overwhelmed because I also tried to visit Bubby as much as I could. Baruch Hashem some neighbors realized that she needed help and she started looking better. But she definitely didn’t bounce back to her old self.

At one point Yehudah realized that he couldn’t deal with Chaim’s issues. It was too much for him. He actually called Totty and asked him for help. Totty kind of said that he doesn’t really know Chaim and Yehudah seemed very capable and he should continue to do whatever it was that he was doing.

I don’t think Yehudah was very pleased with my father at that point.

I actually called Totty back and told him that he had to come take care of Chaim. He told me that he loves me but this wasn’t an issue for me to get involved in.

Reaally?! ‘Cuz I was the one living at home, and it was my brother and there was no mother around. So if it wasn’t my father’s problem, shouldn’t it be mine?

There were times that I felt like I was intruding in my own home, like when I would walk in while Baila and Yehudah were having conversations that looked private. That made me run to my room and dissolve into tears all over again.

There was a community fund that was set up to help support me and my brothers. But aside from that, I wasn’t really sure what the financial arrangements were. I think that was also causing friction in our house.

I tried not to think about it. But I decided that maybe after camp I would see if I could get a steady babysitting job or something to help pay for my expenses.

Back to packing… I cried and cried. And I couldn’t believe that I was going back to camp, the place where I sang and danced and cheered away like the carefree girl that I was just a short year ago. I wasn’t that girl anymore. I saw life through a different lens and I carried a heavy burden. So, I was a little nervous about how camp would play out. But I was happy to get away from all the tension.

And so with fear and relief I boarded the bus to camp.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 925)

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