Lonely House of Truth: Part IV—A Different Direction

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“What are the chances that Aryeh's rebbi would be marrying Adina's morah?” Shalva asked incredulously into the phone.

When Adina and Aryeh had come home excited that their teachers had both gotten engaged, it didn't take long to unravel that they were marrying each other.

“Since I'm going anyway, I'd be happy to take Rina with us. Adina would love to have a friend along for the ride,” continued Shalva.

“I really appreciate it. There is no way I could drive her,” Shoshi gratefully answered.

“So I'll swing by around 6:30. Hopefully, it will take less than half an hour. We can grab a snack and wish them a mazel tov and be back before 8. That way it won't be too crazy to wake them up in the morning.”

“Sounds great. I’ll have Rina ready.”

Shalva helped the kids finish up their homework and dinner. They excitedly bathed, got into their Shabbos clothes and eagerly stood by the door, way ahead of schedule.

While the children settled in, Shalva typed in the hall name and city. As the GPS calibrated, she pulled the car out of the driveway. She reflected on how happy she was that she was killing two birds with one stone. Shalva knew it was silly, but she felt giddy about one less evening out.

They seemed to be driving for a while, and Shalva assumed that there must be more traffic than anticipated. She didn't know this area at all, so she hung on to every over-enunciated GPS word while the children played the license plate game.

“We are almost there,” Shalva said happily as the GPS noted an ETA of 2 minutes. She pulled around the last corner and found that they were…nowhere.

“Are we here?” Aryeh called from the back.

“Here! Here!” echoed little Yaeli.

“I’m not sure,” Shalva answered. She scrolled through her GPS, trying to figure out what went wrong. She looked back at the invitation. “I can’t figure this out.”

Adina started crying. ”I wanted to go! All the other girls in my class are going. It isn’t fair,” she wailed.

“I know this is frustrating, but I am trying to figure it out,” Shalva responded. “I am not sure why, but the GPS directed us to the wrong area of the city. I am putting the correct information in, so let’s see what it says.”

“But it’s not fair.”

“Adina, sweetheart, Hashem wanted us to be here for some reason. I am not sure why, but maybe we can think about what the reason might be. Anyone have any suggestions?” 

Shalva put the address in and double checked that it was directed to the right location. “So, we are a bit off course, but we should be there in about 20 minutes. The GPS is heading us in the right direction now." She quickly texted Shoshi an update, and they went on their way.

Still sniffling, Adina again asked, "Why did this happen?"

Shalva once again returned the question to the children. "Can you think of a reason?"

Each of the children made sweet guesses as to why.

"Maybe Hashem wanted us to be late, because then we will be the only ones there after everyone goes home," Rina answered with young, sweet innocence.

"That's a nice idea, Rina. Anyone else?"

Aryeh excitedly jumped in, "Maybe we will meet a big talmid chacham who will only be at the l'chaim later, and we would have missed him if we went earlier."

The children offered up other suggestions until the conversation moved on to other topics.

Yaeli soon began to whimper and then cry. Shalva tried to talk and sing to her. The other children attempted to distract her, but the extended journey turned out to be more than Yaeli could handle.

As they approached the real location of the l'chaim, Yaeli screamed on, and the other children's patience began to stretch thin.

Finally, they stepped out of the car as the heavens opened up, and they ran for the door. "This has been quite the adventure!" Shalva said with a smile. "Let's go say mazel tov and get a yummy treat for these patient and wet children."

Off to the side, Shalva spotted the rebbi and his kallah.

"Come this way, guys," Shalva led the now-hesitant and shy crew.

As their teachers spotted them, the kids’ faces lit up. "Adina and Rina! Mazel tov! Thank you so much for coming." The girls smiled and said their mazel tovs as Aryeh's rebbi shook his hand gingerly.

As new well-wishers approached, the wet bunch stepped back and headed toward the refreshments. When the group was satiated, Shalva took them to the bathroom before they headed out to the car.

The car was now quiet as Shalva pulled out of the parking spot. Even with the sugar in their systems, the late hour had won out. Yaeli sucked on her thumb, and the others sat in silence.

A half hour later, Shalva walked into her house with her drowsy children. She kissed them in their beds and went to sit down.

Her ringing phone broke the quiet. It was Danny. "Hi Danny," she answered.

"I'm stuck in a ton of traffic," he responded.

"That's so frustrating!"

"It was a long day, and I just want to get home."

"I took the kids to that l'chaim tonight, and the GPS messed us up. We went way out of the way, and it took over an hour to go somewhere that should have taken 20 minutes. The kids were pretty good, but it was so frustrating..."

Danny cut her off, "This is totally different. You had a GPS problem, but I am in traffic."

Shocked into a momentarily silence, Shalva tried to think of a response. "I guess your suffering is much greater than mine," she finally answered since she felt it was probably true.

"Whatever," was Danny's annoyed response...right before he hung up on her.

Shalva looked down at her phone—a means to communicate—which had silenced her. Then the phone lit back up and began to ring again. It was Shoshi.

"Shalva, what an ordeal! Rina said you stayed calm the whole time—even when the baby was crying."

"Baruch Hashem, the kids were great. They were so excited to go. You should have seen the girls with their morah. It was all so sweet."

"I can't believe you took the little ones with you."

"Danny isn't home yet, so they had to come. But it's ok. We had a nice time."

"Not every father handles time at home with the little ones that well anyway. Sometimes, it is better to take them with you."

"So true," Shalva sighed without thinking.

The two women sat with that thought for a moment.

"Not everyone has the same ability to manage things…" Shalva continued.

"And some of us have to handle it all for them," responded Shoshi.

"It's just so exhausting," answered Shalva almost accidentally; the words kept coming.

"Right?!" answered Shoshi. "Are we in the same club?"

"Club?" asked a surprised Shalva.

"Not a good club," laughed Shoshi. "The club that has members who don't want to belong. The club of wives whose husbands just can't manage life, so we have to carry on in spite of them."

"Maybe I'm the president," Shalva laughed unwittingly, catching on.

Just then, Shalva heard a key in the door and tensed up. "Shoshi—Danny's home, so I need to go."

"Let's meet for coffee after carpool tomorrow morning. Just for five minutes."

"Sounds great. G'night."

"Goodnight Shalva."

As she hung up, Danny entered the room, looking at his phone. Shalva got up, said goodnight—which barely elicited a grunt—and headed upstairs to get ready for bed. She had stayed calm in a stressful situation and was a good role model for the children on how to deal with adversity. She had said her truth and belonged to a new club. And now, she had a quick "playdate" scheduled in the morning. A good end of the day. Maybe not the ending she really wanted, but she would take it for now.

Rochel Lazar