Recap: Andy Goodman’s parents and Mickey Schwerner’s wife all come to Mississippi. They are all still hoping to find their family members alive. Yonah finds himself alone, with Jed threatening him.
I sank onto the nearest chair. Rita Schwerner had flown a thousand miles to tell me something I should have known. She was telling me that Hashem is running the world and my job is to do what He wants. Hashem wants us to pursue justice. He doesn’t want us to be cowards and hide when we can make a difference. I rose slowly and grabbed my Tehilim. I said Tehilim for a while. “But I can’t go back. Hashem, please give me the strength to do what’s right. I’m so afraid. I’m so embarrassed.”
By the time my mother came home from visiting Aunt Rose my decision had been made. I told her I had decided to go back to Queens College. I felt a strong resolve coursing through me. She raised her eyebrows, but sensitively didn’t ask any questions.
“I just realized I am running away from something I need to do and it’s wrong. I want to go back even if it’s hard and embarrassing. I have to go back.”
My mother hugged me and then she asked, “On a different note, do you want me to come with you to the doctor tomorrow?”
I’d almost forgotten about the doctor’s appointment hanging over me.
“Thanks, Ima. No, I can go alone.”
“I am happy to come.”
“Well, okay.” I wanted to be brave, but having my mother with me sounded much better than going alone.
The doctor’s office was typical, with paintings of serene settings like mountains and waterfalls on the walls of its waiting room. There was soft music playing and piles of magazines on a table in the middle of the room. People were sitting anxiously, fidgeting in their seats waiting to see the doctor. I noticed a mother with a newborn. I hoped the baby was okay.
I said T’hilim and wished I was somewhere else.
Too soon a nurse called my name and I was ushered back to the examining room.
Dr. Garfield was friendly and tried to help me feel at ease.
“So explain why you are here,” he said in a fatherly voice.
My voice shook as I told him about the fuzzy, faraway feeling and the seizure.
He ran a battery of tests and told me he would call me later in the week with the results.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “Whatever this is, it looks like you are in good health and we will be able to manage the problem.”
I hoped he was right.
The next day I headed back toward Queens College. My heart was pounding. Would people recognize me? I dreaded their stares. And I had to go to the guidance counselor to see if she would readmit me to the classes I’d left.
I called Ella.”Go to the fountain area now. There’s a surprise there for you.”
I headed to the fountain. When Ella saw me, she screamed. “You’re back! I’m so happy! Baruch Hashem!”
Ella asked me to come tomorrow night to a JIS meeting.
“Okay, can you please come with me to the guidance office? I want to see if I can be readmitted to my classes.”
The guidance counselor was nice. “I wish I could help you, Miss Bennett, but the school has strict rules. You can apply for next semester.”
I tried to accept this blow without getting upset. I heard myself say, “I understand.” Then I added, “It was really the journalism class that I wanted to finish. I’m working hard on a research project for that class. I’m going to write it anyway.”
When we had left the building, Ella said, “You should have fought it.”
“It’s all up to Hashem. She’s just a messenger. She was trying to help me.”
All of a sudden the guidance counselor was standing next to us. She’d followed us out of the building.
“I just spoke to Mrs. Lewis and she asked for you to be readmitted. She wants you to finish that research paper. She explained it’s about the bell tower and the three boys who were killed. Apparently, this is no ordinary college assignment.”
I thanked her. “Baruch Hashem,” I whispered.
Ella said, “You have a good connection up there.” She pointed up to the sky.
Tonight I would finish reading the journal so I could complete my first draft of the article. I had a lot of work ahead of me. Writing is rewriting, Mrs. Lewis had taught.
When Dr. Garfield called with the results, I wanted to hide away. He said, “It looks like you do have epilepsy but it’s a mild case and you can control this with medication. I will prescribe some and you can try it and see how you tolerate it.”
“Are there different medications? Is there a cure?”
“There are different ones. I am giving you the one I find is most effective. There is no cure, but the medication will help you manage the disease and you can live a perfectly normal life.”
Epilepsy! That sounded ominous. What about shidduchim?
“What about getting married and having children?” I blurted.
“Epilepsy will not stop you from leading a normal life,” he said.
Maybe he was right, but who would want to go out with me?
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for The Queens Jewish Link and she writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivahs and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.