After my son and youngest daughter were all tucked in, my eldest came over and finally shared the current drama in her life.
Something is going on in her youth group, and it has been weighing heavily on her shoulders.
I offered to help, but she wanted to see if she could take care of this on her own. So, I gave her space and tried not to ask too many questions.
Tonight, after a LONG conversation with her madricha (counselor), she felt like talking.
She had already told me that she feels like it is her responsibility to "fix" the problem, since the girls "only feel comfortable talking with me."
She doesn't see this as a compliment.
"Why not," I ask her.
"It's not my job," she states matter-of-factly. But there is more to it than that.
Her frustration is compounded by her feeling that the girls don't even really know her.
A few days ago she revealed "they don't even know you have cancer."
At the time, I didn't know how to respond.
I told her about all the ways that the girls do know her, like knowing she's a good listener, and can be trusted, and gives good advice.
That didn't comfort her. And I was too stunned to know what else to say.
I've had a few days to think about it since then.
So, tonight, when she repeated the thing about the cancer (within the context of her conversation with her madricha), I asked why she felt that it was so important. Until now, it seemed like she didn't want to talk about it with her friends, and didn't feel it was such a big deal anyway.
She explained that she assured her madricha that I was in no danger and that I was OK (which, she related, was a relief to her madricha), but that it was difficult to have a mother with cancer.
I ventured to suggest that chemo is only one day a week.
She quickly put me in my place.
"No, it affects everything!" For her and for me, she insisted.
The evidence of my cancer is a daily presence, whether it's the chemo, or being tired, or having a "handicapped parking" permit, or the fact that I take pain killers every day.
And it's not the kind of thing that comes up naturally in a peulah (activity) -- "Oh, yeah, by the way, my mom has cancer..."
She doesn't want the girls to feel sorry for her.
She does want them to know.
My daughter went on to tell me all the ins and outs of the relationships between the girls and the madricha. On Tuesday, the madricha is going to run a peulah about their group's dynamics.
It is a relief for my daughter to know that she is no longer personally responsible for the group's cohesion.
It is still unclear when or how the elephant in the corner will be revealed.
I trust that she will work it out.
She knows that I am here to help her.
For now, she is trying to resolve this in her own way, in her own voice.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,